Long notes that Fiesta is made from iron and performs well on broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and clover. “The mode of action for controlling weeds, said simplistically, results from ‘burn down’ of the foliage thereby exhausting the energy stores in the roots,” he explains. “Fiesta should be applied when leaves are present, and two applications are advised three to four weeks apart for best results. People and pets can re-enter a treated area after the leaves have dried.”
Natural alternatives may not have the residual impact that synthetic products have, but remain an option for customers who demand it, according to Adam Manwarren, turf product manager for FMC Professional Solutions. FMC offers a “green” aerosol called Topia insecticide that uses a combination of 25B-exempt ingredients to control insects through contact.
Touting the Benefits of Healthy Turf
What often is left out of discussions about sustainable practices and material is the end product, the actual benefits that a healthy turf provides, Manwarren adds. “Healthy, lush lawns are less susceptible to weeds and insects, not to mention the positive environmental impact they have. The challenge for manufacturers and service providers is to find that sweet spot where new chemistry and technology combine to work toward a sustainable lawn that also delivers optimum benefits for the homeowner.
“Developing and using products that offer lower pounds of active ingredient per treated area is one approach that is gaining in popularity,” Manwarren adds. “This can be accomplished with new active ingredients, but it can also be achieved with new combination products.”
FMC offers single-ingredient and combination products that focus on a molecule called sulfentrazone. The molecule offers speed of control, as well as long-term population control, by stopping weeds from germinating. Long-term population control enhances sustainability.
Manwarren explains, “With this family of products, you may treat a lawn that is 100% infested with weeds one year. The following year, you may have only 30% of the population to control, which means less active ingredient per treated area over time. This level of control also makes the option to use the targeted treatment protocol more attractive, as opposed to broadcast applications.” Manwarren notes that FMC markets several sulfentrazone-based products, including Dismiss, Solitare, Dismiss South, Echelon, and new Blindside herbicides.
“As far as insecticide products, we are always evaluating new technologies,” Manwarren adds. “Recently, we upgraded an industry-standard granular insecticide, Talstar EZ, to a new carrier. This new carrier is exclusive to FMC and features the Verge granule, which is more uniform, virtually dust-free and odorless, and non-staining. It also rapidly disintegrates. Since the granule is more uniform from both a spreadability and load-per-granule perspective, it means applicators will be putting out the right amount of active ingredients per treated area. The fact that it is practically dust-free means more product reaches the treatment area and the applicators wear less product home.”
As stewards of the environment, lawn care professionals and their landscaping counterparts craft and maintain landscapes that are aesthetically appealing and environmentally friendly. Turf grass alone generates an abundance of oxygen, sequesters carbon dioxide, acts a filter, and reduces runoff, among a myriad of other environmental benefits. Yet activists, many of whom support sustainable initiatives, target the industry as environmental offenders, not defenders.
Green Industry members have several options and resources at their disposal to fight back. Among them, they can actively engage their customers, their communities and their legislators in a discussion about the true benefits their services provide. Associations such as RISE and PLANET can supply them with “talking points” and other tools to effectively get their points across. They can also promote and embrace best management practices and offer sustainable solutions to customers. Again, as the above manufacturers point out, the tools are available.
The future of the Green Industry likely hinges on members being proactive on both fronts—as messengers and as environmental managers.