Thursday 29th February

Hosted at Throws Farm by Origin Amenity and Agrigem – Thursday, 29th February

The Turfgrass Growers Association (TGA) had the honour of being hosted by Origin Amenity and Agrigem at Throws Farm, Great Dunmow. The day commenced with Geoff Fenn, the Research & Development Director at Origin Amenity, presenting an introduction to the company. He outlined the current projects and research projects, highlighting to the members the breadth and potential of the ongoing studies.

Despite the challenging weather, members embarked on an extensive tour of the site. Highlights included the trial areas where approaches, such as digital weather recording systems for enhanced growth prediction and comparisons between robotic and cylinder mowers, were shown. These trials are particularly relevant given the industry’s growing concerns over pest impacts. Once back inside, Geoff further explained the rigorous data collection methods underpinning the growth trials.

The afternoon session saw the TGA members’ meeting take place. A heartfelt re-welcome was extended to Harrowden Turf and Lindum Turf, marking their return to the TGA after several years. Initial details of the next meeting, generously hosted by Tillers Turf in June, were shared. This event is set to be a landmark occasion, featuring 47 Australian growers and providing a platform for reciprocal presentations and discussions that promise to enrich both TGA members and their Australian counterparts. Further details are to be shared in due course.

Key discussions during the meeting centred on several pressing issues: the price pressures facing growers, the challenges brought about by extreme weather, and the dwindling availability of chemicals. The assembly deliberated on strategies for the TGA to more effectively promote the industry, enhancing the benefits for its members. Additionally, the proposition of a new code of conduct was announced. Aiming to build upon the existing TGA standards, this code would require annual approval by all members, further solidifying the association’s commitment to excellence within the turfgrass industry.

The discussions also ventured into the uncertain future of the market, the actual size of the UK market and the industry’s production needs. Environmental concerns, particularly regarding plastic netting, were also broached. The consensus leaned towards the TGA advocating for a more environmentally conscious industry, emphasising the sustainable merits of TGA-certified turf, especially to housebuilders and other key turfgrass customers.

The day concluded with a delightful three-course meal at the hotel, providing a relaxed atmosphere for members to network and share insights with industry peers and friends.

Visit to the New Holland Factory – Friday, 1st March

On the second day, TGA members visited the New Holland Factory in Basildon, Essex. This visit offered an in-depth look into the factory’s storied history and its forward-looking initiatives, including the development of methane and electric-powered tractors. The tour of the production line was a standout, illustrating the factory’s adaptability in accommodating various tractor models throughout one production line. This visit highlighted the technological advancements and efficiency at the core of modern agricultural machinery production.