Talking labels

Noise pollution is receiving more public attention than ever before as some municipalities enact restrictions on leaf blowers. But a new source of noise pollution may be coming soon, and it will be emanating from an unlikely source-the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If EPA has its way, we will see-and hear-talking labels on all pesticide packages. That's right, talking labels-an audible message that sounds off with, "Please read the label before use," and a discussion of precautionary statements. The talking labels would play a 20- to 45-second battery-operated computer-chip message in English or Spanish before you use the product. It sounds great, but if users won't read a label-as EPA contends-can we assume they will listen to one? Can you imagine the precedent this could set for other products? Talking mowers and spin trimmers that tell you how to operate them safely, matches that tell you they could be dangerous when lighted or buckets that tell you it's hazardous to fill them and stick your head in them? Would such "cautions" really help improve safety, or would they just be another cost to pass on to consumers?

Considering such "progressive advances" in EPA's application of current technology, you need to be ever cognizant of how such changes affect your job. Thus, this issue focuses on stewardship and some of the latest laws regulating it.

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Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government protects wetlands and waterbodies. It is your responsibility to comply with the law, which, admittedly, is complicated. Unfortunately, you can't plead innocent on the basis of ignorance of the regulations. The opening feature, "Honor thy wetland commitment," (page 14)-by Dr. Sue A. McCuskey, an environmental scientist-provides an overview of what you need to know about laws governing wetlands.

Suppose your phone rings, and the caller is a news reporter and wants to talk to you about the wetland on your site. Do you panic and say, "No comment," or do you take the call and agree to an interview? Before you are put on the hot seat, take a look at our feature on page 72, "How to: Deal with the media." The author, Allen James, executive director of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), has been there before. He offers some sage advice on handling the media.

For the last few years, the news media has covered efforts to save the rain forests. The claim is that the rain forests' species diversity may provide many benefits to man and may be the source of undiscovered pharmaceuticals that could cure many diseases. So when you think of species diversity, you may envision locales like a rain forest or, perhaps, estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay. But you probably don't envision the soil of these locales. The soil, however, holds an extremely diverse array of organisms too. Earthworms, insects, fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes, yeast, algae and protozoa teem in the soil, and they are extremely important to the health of plants such as turfgrass, which grow in the soil. Dr. Eric Nelson, plant pathologist at Cornell University, discusses "The microbiology of turfgrass soils" (page 33). Find out how you can maintain healthier turf by managing your soil's microbial population.

One of the ways you can stimulate microbial activity is to ensure proper soil aeration. On established turf, you can use a core aerator or other type of cultivator to avoid disturbing the turf. Prior to establishment, however, you can achieve good soil aeration using a rotary tiller. Find out "What's New" in rotary tillers (page 60). David Willoughby, assistant professor at Ohio State University's Agricultural and Technical Institute, provides tips on how to effectively use a rotary tiller.

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