Past Ten, Next Ten: Interview with Darryl James

As we roll through the first year of this decade I've asked two standard questions to a few key players in our industry. I wanted to know their thoughts, from their unique role and perspective, on what we saw over this last ten years and what to expect in the ten to come.

Many of you hardcore Turfhugger readers remember Darryl James, our "Irrigation Guru". Darryl's had a busy year in Ontario Canada, providing courses in the Greater Toronto Area with Irrigation, Agronomy and Tree management solutions. When Darryl's not representing his company Arbor Turf Solutions, he's taking good care of his wife Robin, who's expecting a baby within the next month.

Turfhugger: To what degree have environmental issues affected your role through this past decade?

Darryl James: Over the last decade, I transitioned from an Assistant Superintendent to business owner with an environmental focus on water, trees and turf. I chose this path with my business because of the my experience dealing with the increasing environmental regulation within the golf industry.

This past decade, water use has become much more strictly regulated and the permit process has become much more complex. Superintendent’s are now required to monitor their daily usage along with providing evidence of conservation through best management practices.

With respect to trees, many of the large urban centres have instituted tree by-laws. These by-laws restrict the removal of trees on public and private property unless a permit has been issued. There is also regulation with respect to re-planting after trees have been removed.

And lastly, but not least, pesticides and their use has become much more regulated. IPM programs have been instituted across the province in order for golf courses to continue with their use of pesticides. Although a lot of paper work, these programs have increased education within the industry and forced Superintendent’s to look at other alternatives to managing pests.

Therefore, environmental issues in the golf industry has lead to increase documentation and data. Although more paper work, I’m a firm believer that increased data allows a Superintendent to make better choices with respect to the environment.

Turfhugger: What major changes will we see in the next Ten Years that will affect your role most significantly?

Darryl James: The major changes that will affect my role in the next Ten years will be water use. For years, most Ontario Golf Courses felt they had an infinite amount of water but now that is starting to dry up with tighter regulations by the Ministry of the Environment. Golf Course Superintendent’s will need to be more creative when it comes scheduling their irrigation with only an allowable amount of water to use each season. This will ultimately increase technologies and consultation on scheduling and storage of water.

On the tree side of things, I believe foreign pests that threaten our native species will be the biggest challenge. Increased costs will be associated with the control and management of these pests. Utilizing tree inventories to manage diversity throughout the golf course will become extremely important.

Ultimately, environmental issues are not going away within the golf industry. It is best not to ignore it, but embrace it. Get creative with your environmental management knowledge and be a steward of all resources moving forward.