idverde’s Head of Assets and Fleet, Angus Lindsay, considers the future of grounds maintenance, and it looks green.
A new world of virtual meetings and conference calls have become the new norm in our lives, meaning that, more and more, we are interacting with our colleagues through a screen. It’s enlightening to see people in their home environment as you can’t help but look at what’s going on in the background, what’s on their shelves, the pictures on the wall and their choice in décor. Lockdown has given us a whole new insight into the people with whom we work.
This year’s Living City conference became a virtual two-hour event with input from experts across the globe. The online format took nothing away from the presentations and “wow” factor of what the future holds in terms of stakeholders’ green agenda and how businesses are tackling these challenges.
Of particular interest was a presentation from the American Green Zone Alliance, (AGZA), a body whose aim is to educate end users, facilities managers and contractors as to the impact of their grounds maintenance operations. This is achieved by training and certifying operators and managers alike in the safe and effective implementation of the latest battery electric equipment by designing, verifying and certifying low emission Green Zones® for cities, schools, golf courses, and commercial properties to promote healthy workers and peaceful communities. Would the AGZA format work in the UK? I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t; maybe BALI could look at a similar form of accreditation which would complete the circle for environmental good practice.
In the UK many local authorities are raising the bar when it comes to adopting new environmentally friendly technology and practices, with this now a significant component of new tenders. This is also the case with private sector clients, who see it as part of their overall emissions reduction strategy. At last, the green revolution starts with some commitment. For me, schools, university campuses and sports facilities are areas where a new approach to the maintenance of their green spaces would see the greatest benefits. Not only would you reduce the immediate impact of the operations but, being learning environments full of young people, you are interacting with the next generation, whose future will be affected by what we do today.
Do we have the tools for the job to deliver this kind emission-free nirvana? Well, personally, I think the momentum is beginning to gather pace: we have access to a wide range of reliable electric power tools – Mean Green Mowers and Altrec provide expensive but proven electric options, and the recently released Monarch all-electric tractor takes the traditional tractor and gives it electric power and total autonomy, while still being compatible with existing implements and able to be operated in environments which don’t suit autonomous operations. Still in its early days and unlikely to see these shores in the near future it is a viable alternative to diesel in the right environment – especially where that environment can be controlled and mapped via GPS or similar systems, where your existing mower or verti-drain fitted to the tractor could be sent to work in fully autonomous mode.
Taking things a step further, Husqvarna launched a taster of its CEORA robotic turf management system which is said to be more than just a mower, though it has the capacity to cut up to 50,000m² per day. Aimed at the aforementioned education and sports markets it is GPS controlled and able to undertake a variety of turf management operations. We wait with bated breath.
Angus’s article is also published in the March 2021 issue of Pro Landscaper magazine.