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Purdue Turf & Landscape Field Day Equips Green Industry Professionals

There is a large demand for information and education among Midwest turf and landscape professionals. Collectively, those working in turf (natural grass) and landscape businesses are referred to as the green industry. Development of education programs that address both short-term (current problems and hot topics) and long-term (sustainability) issues is key to reducing inputs and environmental risks while simultaneously improving quality of turf and landscapes for human and environmental benefits. Further, there is a need among professionals for continuing certification hours (CCHs) to keep their commercial pesticide certification current with the Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC). More than 2,800 individuals maintain Category 3a-Ornamentals or 3b-Turf pesticide applicator licenses requiring 15-20 hours of recertification training (CCHs) every five years. 

Purdue Extension faculty, specialists, students, and Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) and Purdue Pesticide Programs staff provide high-quality, science-based continuing education to green industry professionals using a demonstration-style event. This annual, one-day Turf and Landscape Field Day event provides 16 hours of content via morning tours and afternoon workshops. Participants could earn up to four CCHs for attending. Participants include managers and staff from golf courses, professional lawn care businesses, landscape installers and maintenance firms, plant nurseries, sod farms, athletic fields (university, high school, and municipal level), grounds managers of business and industrial complexes, schools, parks, cemeteries and hospitals, and industry salespeople and distributors.

Average number of Field Day participants was 482 (2013- 2019, pre-covid) with 403 in 2022. Of 85 participants reporting, they were predominantly White (90.2%) and male (85.4%). Participants described their work as lawn care (59%) landscape install/maintenance (36%), landscape design (26%), athletic fields (16%), land/ vegetation management (10%), plant nursery (8%), golf course (6%), and aquatics, arborist, greenhouse, or sod farm (<5%). A total of 243 Field Day participants earned CCH credits. These represent a portion of the 3,489 professionals who earned CCHs by attending Purdue Extension programs in 2022. As a result of the field day, participants (85.9%) reported they learned something they didn’t know before. Additionally, nearly half (48.2%) indicated they plan to adopt practices for increased efficiencies. A third (33.7%) plan to adopt practices/ technologies for horticulture and the environment, and fewer (27.7%) plan for conservation of resources. As a result of discussions at this event, nearly all (93.8%) indicated they feel better equipped to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Participants (67.1%) reported attending to earn professional CCH credits.

More than half (59%) indicated they had attended this event in the past. Of these past participants, nearly three-quarters (70.8%) reported they had adopted a new or recommended practice for their farm or operation. These practices were most commonly described as fertilizer technology, improved weed control strategies, or disease identification and management. When asked about improvements observed as a result of adopting a new recommended practice, two-thirds (66.7%) indicated increased efficiencies and 27.3% reported increased economic returns. Participants shared improvements as a result of adopting recommended practices: better control, happier customers/clients, and an increase in sales. While most past participants could not estimate a dollar value for economic returns from adopted recommended practices, those who could estimated between $1,000 and $4,500. As a result of Purdue Extension’s Turf and Landscape Field Day, green industry professionals are better equipped to do their jobs, complete required training to maintain professional licenses, adopt practices and new technologies to improve efficiencies, the environment, or sustainability efforts. Those who adopted improved fertilizer and pest control practices saw better results, increased economic returns, and more satisfied customers.
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