Massey Services First to Sponsor Industry-wide Weed Science Symposium

In a move to improve dialogue in the Florida lawn care industry, Orlando-based Massey Services sponsored the first ever “Weed Science Symposium” for turf specialists from around Florida. Nearly 20 professionals from both private companies and Universities in Florida, spent time recently at the Massey Services’ Learning Center in Orlando discussing the current state of weed control, future strategies for weed management and improvements for customer satisfaction.

“This is really intended to be more of a process rather than just an event,” said Karen Novosel, Ph.D, Technical and Training Director for Massey Services’ GreenUP division. “We have to ask ourselves how we, as an industry, can stay in communication with one another. Massey is striving to create a forum to share research and obtain funding to help influence the people responsible for making decisions on products in the weed control industry.”

Prior to 1977, lawn care was driven by the pest control industry, and weed control was a nearly non-existent concept. Nowadays, lawn care is weed control driven and the regulatory climate is limiting options available to lawn care professionals. In addition to herbicide products and other management approaches, issues such as new grass varieties and water usage will guide sustainability and “maintainability” of the Florida landscape.

Several extension specialists in environmental horticulture from the University of Florida attended the event, solidifying the connection between the university’s researchers, master gardeners, lawn care professionals and ultimately, the customer.

“If we don’t stay in touch with our industry at some level, then we’re not meeting their needs,” said Laurie E. Trenholm, Ph.D., extension specialist for the University of Florida. “As a university that has the means to perform research, it’s vital for us to provide a resource to the commercial industry as well as to homeowners.”

The symposium included addressing the history of weed control in Florida, the “top ten most wanted” weeds, weed control practices, alternative grass types for Florida landscapes, regulatory options for the industry and products and research.

“This symposium is really an unprecedented move for this industry in Florida,” said Bryan Unruh, Ph.D., statewide extension turfgrass specialist for the University of Florida. “Having an ongoing forum would really allow university researchers the opportunity to shape our programs from a better standpoint in order to aid lawn care industry professionals.”

The forum was the first local effort in which competitive businesses worked together for the betterment of the industry as a whole. The resulting feedback from forum participants was clear; the dialogue was great and needs to continue.

“This symposium really serves as an industry benchmark to where we’ve been, what we’re doing now and what we can do as a united front,” said Massey’s Karen Novosel, Ph.D. “Customer expectations can make or break us and we must move together as an industry to continue to be effective.”

The Florida Turf Grass Association (FTGA) has recently asked Dr. Novosel to become a member of their Board of Directors. Dr. Novosel believes this opportunity will present a chance to continue the dialogue between the various sectors of the lawn care industry and merge those voices.

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