Golf scheme aims to boost bees

Bee-friendly maintenance of roughs and other golf course areas can reduce running costs over time as well as providing a haven for bees, according to agri-business giant Syngenta.

Its Operation Pollinator programme, launched on the golf market at BTME, suggests that golf course managers should combine an initial application of herbicide such as Syngenta's Rescue with later applications of its Primo Maxx growth regulator to prevent grasses out-competing broad-leaved wild flowers.

"Eighteen months later you have a wild flower meadow that requires significantly less management than a conventional rough," said Syngenta representative Robin Dean. "We have already seen a sixfold increase in bumblebee numbers over three years at other sites."

The technique has been trialled at the Sports Turf Research Institute, which will offer training in wild flower meadow maintenance to greenkeepers. Syngenta will supply suitable native provenance seed mixes from Emorsgate Seeds.

British Beekeepers' Association director of public affairs Tim Lovett said he welcomed the scheme's launch, adding: "I hope it won't be limited to golf courses - other public spaces could benefit too."

Also addressing environmental issues with its new range of Euroflor meadow flower seed mixtures, Rigby Taylor used BTME to emphasise its importance as a means of improving carbon sequestration and bee populations.

Trials on golf courses throughout the UK over the past 12 months enabled the company - working in cooperation with seed breeder Top Green - to ensure that the mixtures provide a long and varied flowering period.

"Following the huge interest from golf club members and the public, we are looking to introduce smaller-sized packs and make them available through professional golf shops," explained Rigby Taylor seed research director Brian Robinson.

Preparation work includes killing off weeds and loosening the soil, followed by sowing at a rate of three to five grams per square metre. The profusion of flowers appears within six to eight weeks of sowing and will continue until the first frosts, generally around October or November.

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