New and Amazing Products for Landscape Professionals
By Todd Layt
Herbicides, insecticides, and fertilisers are going through a renewed phase of research and development, and finally Australian suppliers have decided to bring new products to Australia. So what’s new now, and what are some of the underused revolutionary products of the past. Lawn mower development has slowed in innovation, and recently entered more of a refinement mode for things like Zero Turn mowers, but are there new developments heading towards us in the near future? Some are already here, like the remote controlled spider mower.
Lawn and amenity chemicals are finally getting some attention in Australia. So often check on the internet and find wonderful chemicals that control all types of weeds only to find they are not available in Australia. Often the companies say the market is too small for the expense of registration. Well it’s great to see some companies like Syngenta and DOW embracing innovation and moving out from the crowd and bringing us new product to Australia.
Acelepryn is an amazing new lawn grub control that will provide up to 6 months protection against African Black Beetle, Cutworm, Armyworm, Webworm and more with a single application, and best of all it is non-scheduled. This means it is far safer on the applicators health, and less safety protocols are necessary. Non or unscheduled basically means the only warning on the label needed is ‘Keep out of the reach of children’, and it is of low toxicity. This really is a huge development for all the lawn maintenance people out there. Apply Acelepryn in early September every year, just once, and effectively eliminate lawn grub problems for your clients, all in a very safe way.
Lawn weed control just got a lot safer too. Why kill weeds after they emerge; why not use a pre-emergent to stop them coming in the first place. Barricade is a new, again non-scheduled chemical that stops many weeds from germinating. It will not control any existing weeds. Apply in Late August for control of many spring weeds. Apply early autumn for winter weeds. Safety of the applicator and the client is so much easier to ensure when a chemical is non-scheduled.
Gallery is another unscheduled pre-emergent chemical for lawns that is particularly good with certain broadleaf weed types. After speaking with academics in the USA, they claim that the best pre-emergent combination for weed control is achieved by using both Barricade and Gallery at the same time. Used together, it will be very difficult for any weeds to come up in your lawn. Sure it may cost more, but you can just about ensure your clients that no weed seed will germinate. Gallery is another chemical that has been registered in Australia after being used for a while in the USA. Think about our cousins over the ditch, all three of these have not been registered in NZ. I think in a few years, we will be surprised what new herbicides and pesticides have made their way from the USA to Australia. Keep up the good work Syngenta and Dow.
It’s great to have these new tools, but we shouldn’t forget some of the great underutilised chemicals already out there. Halosulfuron can be used for selective post-emergence control of Nutgrass and Mullumbimby in turf and in some garden situations. Basically it kills sedges out of plants and turf. Fusilade Forte will kill grass in general out of turf and other non-grass plants. It’s registered for roadsides, so it is beyond craziness that you still see companies trying to kill couch and kikuyu infesting Lomandra and other non grass plants with round up. They usually kill more plants than weedy grass. Fusilade can simply be sprayed over the top of non-grass plants, and the couch or kikuyu, or summer grass will die, and not hurt the plants.
Spear head is a great broadleaf spray easily controlling most broadleaf weeds, and it can be used on Buffalo turf. I find it kills clover far better than other chemicals allowed to be used on Buffalo. Primo Maxx is a great tool for summer holidays. When you have too much work before the Christmas break, spray all the lawns with Primo and you will halve the mowing for 6 weeks. This should be in every lawn mowing contractor’s summer tool kit.
Slow release fertilisers have been proven in a lot of research to be better than regular fertilisers, and have now been proven to work in winter in most of Australia on Buffalo, Zoysia and Kikuyu. Now there are some good combo products available. Two products spring to mind; slow release impregnated with the pre-emergent Ronstar, or pendimethalin. Both products make a lot of sense for early spring and early autumn application. Easy to apply, fertilise and stop weeds at the same time.
TX 10 Mycorrhiza is a multi-source organic fertiliser consisting of 10 components to help soil fertility, with added Mycorrhiza fungi for improved pathogen resistance and increased root absorption. Mycorrhiza can help lawn in more ways such as better uptake of nutrients and increased drought tolerance. It basically provides living organisms that will turn the soil into a far better living structure providing better turf and plant quality. The addition of a wetting agent helps reduce soil hydrophobicity. Expect to see more combo products in the future.
New mower innovation has entered more of a refinement phase than an innovative phase. Sure there are better Zero turn mowers each year, and new models of regular mowers, but they are not revolutionary. Robot mowers are not refined enough yet to even make mowing contractors look at them seriously. The only remote control mower to make its mark is the Spider mower.
A remote control mower designed for slopes. The big model has lots of power, is easy to use, and will work on slopes of 40 degrees. They are also being used for wet areas, where other mowers would find it difficult. At $55000 these are serious industrial mowers, but they are saving a lot of time for contractors compared to using brush cutters. Smaller units are now available, including a $30000 and a $13000 model. The smaller one is cost effective enough for the average contractor to have, and be able to mow slopes and wet areas easily. The same mower can easily mow regular smaller areas if one mower is needed on that site. Remember a regular mower cannot mow steep slopes or wet areas, but the remote control spider can mow slopes, wet areas, and normal flat areas.
It was rare to see tradesman use battery powered tools 20 to 25 years ago. Now how often do you see a tradesman with a plug in power drill? Now it is rare to see a tradesman with a battery powered trimmer or lawn mower, but what will it be like in 10 years’ time? This all depends on how serious lawn mower and trimmer manufacturing companies take battery powered lawn maintenance equipment. The current ranges are under powered, don’t last long on a charge and have poor tradesman usability. What’s needed is for these companies to get serious. If an electric car company with all their technology made a mower I think we could have a battery powered tradesman mower in a few years. Make the battery last longer sure, but the main thing is to make them easily swappable, and iron out the kinks. Tradesman carry many batteries with them for their drill, saws etc. Why not make them easily removable, and easily chargeable? All the battery mowers seem difficult to use, having poor catcher systems, and other basics that have been fixed in fuel based mowers for years. Will these problems be fixed? Time will tell.
Another new concept is to have and edger on the outside wheel of a mower, with an extra wheel inside for support. So mow and edge the perimeter at the same time. It is presently in concept and prototype testing, but will the Packer-Combo-Mower-Edger catch on, again only time will tell.