Five Keys to Labor Efficiency
As we flip the calendar and regroup for the 2023 growing season, the largest component of most budgets is labor. What can minimize the shortcomings of a smaller staff but keep providing a safe and desirable product? Five steps that we can focus on are fertilization, growth regulators, wetting agents, pond management, and weed control.
The first focus point is fertilization. Your first step is getting a Soil Solver test to maximize your results. Only put out what you need when you need it. You should be replenishing deficiencies during the spring and fall. The use of fertilizers with Armament will assist with nutrient uptake. You can also look at fertilizers with insect and weed preventers attached to save multiple applications.
Frequent mowing can chew through your labor budgets, but this can be minimized with the use of growth regulators. Trinexapac-ethyl (ArmorTech PGR 113 MC), paclobutrazol (ArmorTech PAC 223), or a combination product is something to consider. You should also consider using growing degree days to maximize applications and avoid the rebounds of turfgrass coming out of regulation.
Is moving the water wheel time-consuming? The use of wetting agents can lower the need for water and extend water applications. Picture a half circle. One end is infiltration (Aqueous), in the middle is infiltration/hydration (Kastella), and the other is hydration (Matador). Having a wetting agent in the soil during times of high rainfall will move water through the soil profile. You may find you can mow your fields to stay on schedule with an application of an infiltration type of wetting agent.
Have you ever sent your crew out with every landscape rake in your shop? Have you been asked to trim your budget? One item you may want to look at a little closer is your pond management program. You may be able to save some budget dollars and utilize your crew in a more efficient manner by treating your ponds with a variety of products in-house. The first step in this process is to have your water tested. Getting a baseline on pH and nutrients will arm you with data.
In almost every situation, preventative maintenance over curative is more efficient in the long term. Foliar-Pak recently introduced a product with this mindset called Pond Additive. You can make the applications as simple as adding the product near your pond fill and allowing the current to disperse it throughout your pond. You may also look to treat the water coming into your ponds with other preventative measures.
Having to send out your crew to pull weeds or weedy fence lines can be negated. The use of pre-emergent herbicides is essential for lowering labor costs. Glyphosate usage is under constant pressure. The addition of a pre-emergent with your application can provide a barrier of up to eight months with one application along fence lines, buildings, or trees in non-selective situations. Landscaping beds can absolutely chew into budgets, and our product portfolio of herbicides should be able to soften the blow of two fewer employees.
Contact your ATS rep for help selecting the right fertilizer, PGR, wetting agent, pond product, or herbicide to support labor efficiency on your golf course.