Category Archives: Conferences

ETP Farm Tours in Oslo, Norway from September 12-13 2019

By ETP office

On 12-13th September ETP organized its 3rd ETP Farm Tour in Oslo, Norway, with past 2 Farm Tour held in UK (2015) and Italy (2016). Taking advantage of a mild end of summer weather, 96 sod farmers and industry delegates from 20 European (and non-European) countries joined this event, which was a first of its kind for Norway.

The perfect organisation of this Farm Tour was the work of Johnny Trandem, a former Board member of ETP, and his Family and Company Østfold Gress AS.

In an intense 2-day program, the participants saw and learned how turf is grown in Norway. There was also time to interact and network with each other, and enjoy the atmosphere of stunningly beautiful Norway.

The centre of the event was the Hotel Ullevaal Panorama, in Oslo (NO), next to the Ullevaal Stadion, home ground of the Norway national football team, and the site of the Norwegian Cup Final. As participants gathered and registered for the event, they could enjoy a welcome drink & food in the Stadium’s meeting room. A first opportunity to catch up and network with friends and colleagues.

The welcome was followed by the ETP General Assembly (where balance 2018 and budget 2019 were approved) and by the seminar session, with presentations from the invited Speakers Martin Bocksch (Deutscher Rollrasen Verband e.V.), Filippo Lulli (Turf Europe Srl), Morten Eirik Engelsjord (Floratine Norge) and John Riiber (Head Greenkeeper of the Oslo Golf Club).

Albrecht Knigge, ETP President, also announced the 2020 Turf Expo, which will be held on September 10th – 11th 2020 at Pattensen, Germany.

After the visit of the Stadium pitch, the participants enjoyed a pleasant dinner and evening all together.

The next day was dedicated to the technical visits of the ETP Farm Tour. The first stop was at the sod farm Bærum Ferdigplen, a company with more than 20 years of experience that supply sod throughout southern Norway. Second stop was at the Oslo Golf Club, the oldest in Norway with a kind and complete report talk of the Greenkeeper. Before the last visit, the delegates stopped and had lunch at the Holmenkollen area, the world’s biggest ski arena, were they could go on top and looked around the whole Oslo area with a nice September weather.

ETP Sponsors Barenbrug, Campey, DLF, TPI and Vanmac offered a 5 minutes presentation to the delegates in the Østfold Gress’s hangar, elegantly organized to host the participants.

The Farm Tour was closed by an exquisite welcome and a pleasant outdoor visit in the Østfold Gress facilities, after which the participants were left to chill out and relax in Johnny’s wonderful farmyard, with drinks and coffee while caterers were preparing for the evening’s barbecue dinner.

ETP wishes to thank everyone who attended the Farm Tour and the local organizers (Johnny Trandem and his Family and Company Østfold Gress AS) for making this a most entertaining and informative event. We hope to see you in September 2020 for ETP’s 3rd Turf Show in Germany.

See you then !!

TPI 2019 International Education Conference Recap

TPI’s 2019 International Education Conference roared into Charlotte, North Carolina February 18-20 when more than 450 TPI members from nine countries and 36 states came together for an exciting week of learning, networking, and meeting new friends. 

The event started early on Monday as more than 150 people traveled to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendricks Motor Sports, Bank of America Stadium (home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers), and BB&T Ballpark (home of the Triple A Charlotte Knights). A special highlight of the day was when attendees were rode in vans around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway at speeds exceeding 80mph. Attendees learned about the myriad events held at the Speedway over the course of the year, ranging from stock car races to drag races to STEM classes for middle school students. At Hendricks, the group saw a number of  track-driven cars from the various Hendricks drivers as well as some of the shop areas. A frequent comment from the large number of TPI members watching the shop area how the large, well-lit, climate-controlled area looked like a dream!  The stadium and ballpark tours were full of insider information about game day preparations and field maintenance for  high traffic areas!

Later that evening, TPI president Eric Heuver welcomed a full house to the President’s Reception in the Providence Ballroom. The energy in the room was deafening and set an exciting tone for the week as the crowd spilled into ballroom lobby areas into the evening. 

 

Education

The 2019 Education Conference kicked off with a theme of change as keynote speaker Shawn Rhodes of Shosin Consulting opened the conference with his talk entitled Creating A Pivot Point: Leveraging Change Without Sacrificing Results. This session was followed by breakout sessions focusing a number of business and agronomic topics including technology on the farm, sod shelf life, TPI’s new PR initiative (#keepitreal), natural grass water needs, lessons learned in the industry, managing change, and turfgrass marketing and pricing information. Speakers included TPI’s Executive Director Dr. Casey Reynolds; a member panel of Tom Diveley (Harmony Outdoor Brands), Laurie Griffen (Saratoga Sod Farm, Inc.), and Ryan Menken (Jasperson Sod Farm); a second member panel of Bobby Winstead (Winstead Turf Farms), Fred Pittillo (Turf Mountain Sod), Merett Alexander (NG Turf), and Joe Wilkins (Green Valley Turf Co.); as well as several university researchers, including Ben Campbell, PhD (University of Georgia); Doug Karcher, PhD (University of Arkansas), John Stier, PhD (University of Tennessee), Jay McCurdy, PhD (Mississippi State University); and Roch Gaussoin, PhD (University of Nebraska).  

Phil Davis, the founder and president of Tungsten Branding kicked off Wednesday’s education slate with his talk about branding entitled The Grass Is Always Greener… Until It Isn’t: The Changing Perceptions of Public Opinion. The day’s breakout sessions included topics such as innovative farm management (Diane and Greg Mischel of DeBucks Sod Farm, Inc.); plant and soil interactions (Adam Thoms, PhD, and Nick Christians, PhD, Iowa State University); as well as updates on TPI’s government relations initiatives from Dr. Casey Reynolds; and repeats of some of Tuesday’s sessions.

Annual Business Meeting 

TPI Officers and Staff led the 2019 TPI Annual Business Meeting where they presented information on TPI and TLI budgets, TLI scholarships, current and new initiatives, and more. TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds, PhD spoke about TPI’s current and future endeavors in attending and speaking at turfgrass events throughout the world, TPI’s involvement in regulatory affairs, developing new benefits for TPI members, new supplier categories, and a new TPI website that will be launching in 2019.

TPI Vice-President Hank Kerfoot presented two Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarships to deserving recipients Sara Lechlider and Krysta Bouchard. He also provided updates on a new public relations initiative that was launched in 2019 and will include consumer and market research on natural grass as well as new TPI resources that will allow members to promote their use. “We’re excited about getting this underway and promoting the use of natural grasses while also putting more resources in the hands of TPI members”, says Casey Reynolds, PhD.

Inspirational Breakfast

TPI Past President Bob Weerts was the featured speaker at Wednesday’s Inspirational Breakfast as he shared his intensely moving story of faith and loss and how TPI members form a family for all of us. The morning allowed all in attendance to reflect upon their own blessings with a reminder from Bob to not take anyone for granted and to let people in your life know how much you love and appreciate them.

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall opened with a tremendous crowd ready to visit with the 59 exhibitors and event sponsors lining the hall. The energy was high in the action-packed aisles for more than two hours on Tuesday evening and again on Wednesday afternoon as vendors were able to share information about their products with the attendees. TPI is fortunate to have so many supportive vendors and sponsors that make our events possible!  

Show and Tell

New board members John Keleher (Australian Lawn Concepts), Bob McCurdy (McCurdy Sod Farms), and Aaron McWhorter (NG Turf) wrapped up the conference in Charlotte by sharing their farms with members at the always-popular Show and Tell Sessions. These sessions are always popular for attendees because it provides an opportunity to hear about the successes of other operations, as well as the challenges and the solutions to them. Thanks to John, Bob, and Aaron for sharing their stories. 

 

TLI Valentine’s Day Dessert Reception Raises $123,000

Many attendees flocked to the TLI reception on Wednesday night to enjoy some after-dinner Valentine desserts with friends and family while raising money for TLI’s research, scholarship, education, and PR initiatives. A variety of items were auctioned off to benefit TLI including an Osceola turkey hunt in Florida, a Texas hog hunt, a Brouwer Turf Roller, a gourmet Dinner for 8, a NASCAR driving package, a homemade quilt, a TPI 2019 conference registration and lodging package, and more!   

The evening ended with the auctioning of a Trebro Autostack II harvester, courtesy of Trebro Turf Equipment which went to Anthony and Sonia Heilig of A&S Heilig t/a Go Turf in Beerburrum Queensland Australia!

TPI 2018 draws over 700 people to Tucson, Arizona

TPI’s 2018 International Education Conference & Field Day attracted more than 700 people who enjoyed a whirlwind week of learning, networking, catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones from February 12th – 15th in Tucson, Arizona. Attendees came from 41 states and 16 countries and traveled from as far away as South Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, and even Japan to take part in the energy and enthusiasm of this event.  

The week started on Monday morning with almost 100 participants at the Rootin’ Tootin’ Clay Shootin’ event to benefit The Lawn Institute (TLI). Attendees sharpened their shooting skills by taking aim at clay targets on a scenic desert course at the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club and Southwest Regional Training Center for the US Olympic Shooting Team.

After a group breakfast, it was off to the ranges where teams competed for the title where clay targets were thrown from various places over many stations on the course. After it was all over, the top three teams included TPI members from 1st place) Texas, 2nd place) Australia, and 3rd place) Canada! Congrats to all of the winners.

Another busload of attendees visited the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2. Biosphere 2 is one of the world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues.  

It serves as a laboratory for controlled studies and has as it’s mission to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and life-long learning about Earth and it’s living systems. TPI attendees got a chance to see this unique world-class scientific facility first-hand!

Later that evening, TPI president Jimmy Fox opened the conference on to a packed house at the Opening Reception on the Foyer of the Westin La Paloma. Here attendees got a chance to relax on the outdoor patio overlooking the scenic Catalina mountains of Tucson, AZ.

Ty Bennet, founder of Leadership, Inc. speaks to TPI members during the General Session

The 2018 Education Conference presented attendees with many options to solve their biggest business challenges. Monday’s pre-conference seminar featured Lynda Pinnington, PhD, of Pinnington Training & Development, in a class entitled Meeting the Challenges of Leadership in Today’s Workplace. Tuesday’s education slate kicked off with Ty Bennett of Leadership Inc. talking about investing in people with his talk, Partnership is  the New Leadership.  The rest of the day’s topics included research comparisons of natural versus synthetic surfaces, communicating the value of a natural turf surface, information about drought- and cold-resistant cultivars, and site-specific turf management tools. Featured speakers included Jack Fry, PhD, Kansas State University; Gerald Henry, PhD, University of Georgia; and John Sorochan, PhD, University of Tennessee. 

Kevin Cross started Thursday’s education program with his story of fraud, redemption, and workplace ethics. The breakout sessions covered new and emerging technologies for turf management, novel techniques for seeding grass in a soybean field, ways to manage personal stress, and information about salt and sodium. Thursday’s speakers included Lisa Goatley, LPC, Blacksburg, Virginia; Doug Karcher, PhD, University of Arkansas; Dave Kopec, PhD, University of Arizona; Ed Lee, Summit Seed; and Mike Wagner, M&M Turf.

TPI President Jimmy Fox presents during Annual Business Meeting

 TPI Officers and Staff led the 2018 TPI Annual Business Meeting where they presented information on TPI and TLI budgets, TLI scholarships, current and new initiatives, and more. The TPI Board of Trustees also presented two new by-law amendments to the membership in attendance regarding changing the current TPI membership and fiscal years to align with the calendar year, as well as other TPI procedures. These amendments were formally put on the table, discussed, and approved by the TPI membership and will become effective January 1st of 2019. 

TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds, PhD spoke about TPI’s current and future endeavors in attending and speaking at turfgrass events throughout the world, involvement in regulatory affairs, developing new benefits for TPI members, new supplier categories, and a new TLI website that will be launching soon. 

He also provided updates on a new public relations initiative that will be launched in 2018 and will include consumer and market research on turfgrass as well as new TPI resources that will allow members to promote natural turfgrasses and their use. “We’re excited about getting this underway and promoting the use of natural turfgrasses while also putting more resources in the hands of TPI members”, says Casey Reynolds, PhD.

Exhibit Hall and Field Day

The Exhibit Hall opened on Tuesday with a tremendous crowd ready to visit with the 52 exhibitors lining the hall. The energy was high in the action-packed aisles for more than two hours as vendors were able to share information about their products with the attendees. Then it was off to field day at nearby Evergreen Turf in Eloy, Arizona where the rain held off as crowds flocked to visit 31 exhibitors and learn about new products and technologies while enjoying a beautiful mountain view!

R&R Products Tour

TPI Attendees were treated to a real surprise Tuesday with a field trip and lunch tour of R&R Products, a leading manufacturer of replacement parts for the commercial golf and turf industry. With over 275 employees, this family-owned and operated corporation manufacturers over 25,000 parts and TPI attendees got a chance to see many of them being made while touring the 300,000+ square feet manufacturing facility in Tucson, AZ.     

Their sales philosophy has always been to offer a top quality product at an attractive price and have them in stock at all times for immediate delivery. The Rogers family says, “All R&R reels, bedknives, and tines are  guaranteed against defects for the life of the product and R&R ships 98% of all orders the same day.”

This was definitely one of the most unique parts of TPI 2018 in Tucson. It’s not every day you get a chance to tour a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Not only did TPI members get to see where much of their turfgrass replacement parts were made, but they also got treated to a lunch with local flavor and custom R&R Products Keychains!

TPI travels to Georgia, Mississippi, SC, and Texas

TPI continues it’s outreach with new staff members Casey Reynolds, PhD and Karen Cooper.  Fresh off from trips to Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Holland, it was time in November and December to visit the deep south with trips to Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. The 2017 Georgia Urban Ag Council’s Sod & Turfgrass Producers Field Day was held in Perry, GA from Oct 31st – Nov. 1st and included educational sessions along with a field day on a bright, sunny, and windy day at TPI Member Super-Sod’s farm in Fort Valley, GA. Vendors from all over came to exhibit new products, services, and of course to demonstrate the latest equipment.

Some of these vendors then packed up their bags and headed further south for a week at the Deep South Turf Expo in Biloxi, MS. Casey Reynolds was there on behalf of TPI at the Deep South Turf Expo Trade Show, but also was an invited speaker during the educational sessions. His topics include Interpreting Pesticide Labels, Shade & Implications for Turfgrass Health, and Current & Future Issues Affecting  Turfgrass Production. For more information on Shade & Implications for Turfgrass Health check out the January/February issue of Turf News! 

In addition to the Deep South Turf Expo, TPI also had trade show booths at the 2017 Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Conference & Trade Show from November 13-15 in Myrtle Beach, SC and at the Texas Turfgrass Association Conference & Show from December 5 – 7th in Arlington, TX. While at the Carolinas GCSA conference, Casey Reynolds and TPI Secretary/Treasurer Hank Kerfoot of Modern Turf were able to visit with turfgrass producers from South Carolina during the SC Sod Producers Association business meeting, held at the same convention center. Hank and Casey shared new and ongoing information relative to TPI initiatives, memberships, and the upcoming 2018 TPI International Education Conference & Field Day in Tucson, AZ. Dr. Bert McCarty was also in attendance to discuss updates on Clemson University’s turfgrass program and the ongoing problem of herbicide resistance weeds. TPI would like to extend a special thanks to the SC Sod Producers Association for hosting us and letting us be a part of their event.  

Karen Cooper was able to attend the 2017 Texas Turfgrass Association (TTA) where she was able to connect with TPI supplier and producer members in Texas. This was a special year for the Texas Turfgrass Association as they honored 70 years of Past Presidents as well as their long time Executive Director Shirley Duble. 

TPI member Thomas Turfgrass’s Emory Thomas is on the Board of Directors for the Texas Turfgrass Association and TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds is a past advisor to TTA.

TPI and ITRC hold joint conference in New Brunswick, NJ

The 2017 TPI Summer Convention was held alongside the International Turfgrass Research Conference (ITRC) from July 16th – 21st in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Over 450 turfgrass researchers and professionals from around the world gathered to discuss the latest turfgrass research findings, see the sights of NYC, and more.  

The International Turfgrass Society (ITS) is a not-for-profit scientific organization established in 1969 to encourage research and education in turfgrass science, and to promote personal communication among the international community of turfgrass researchers by organizing international conferences to present turfgrass research and information on all phases of turfgrass production and use. ITRC meetings are held every 4 years and this year’s theme was “Meeting the Challenges of a Changing Environment”.

The week began with a welcome reception on Sunday and was followed by two days of scientific presentations from leaders in turfgrass science from at least 30 states and over 26 countries. Research areas of interest that were presented included: climate, plant health and physiology, management, planting practices, pest control, nutrient fate, plant breeding, stress tolerance, sports field drainage, new technologies, market trends, consumer preferences, and more.

In addition to classroom educational sessions, ITRC members were treated to several technical tours, which ran concurrently with those scheduled as part of the 2017 TPI Summer Conference. These sites included Yankee Stadium, Red Bull Arena, Met Life Practice Field (home of the NY Giants), Monmouth Park Race Track, Central Park in NYC, Bronx Botanical Gardens, Rutgers Horticultural Research Farms, Trump National Golf Club (home of the 2017 US Women’s Open), Tuckahoe Turf Sod Farms, and the USGA Museum and Testing Facility in nearby Far Hills, New Jersey.

Tour Stops

Each of these sites had something special to offer anyone interested in turfgrasses, and they certainly rose to the challenge. The  faculty and staff at Rutgers University highlighted research on Wednesday afternoon followed by a BBQ dinner and live entertainment and then again on Friday where attendees toured additional research sites. Attendees got a chance to see turfgrasses under shade, drought, traffic, minimal nutrients, and other stresses designed to meet the challenges of a changing environment.

TPI and ITRC attendees interested in golf really received a special treat on Thursday’s site visits as the tour stopped at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ and the USGA Museum and Testing Facility. Highlights included a  tour of where golf equipment is  tested for conformity with USGA rules and a stop in the museum where legendary and timeless golf history is archived including the US Open championship trophies, the moon club that used to hit two golf balls on the moon, and temporary rules of golf in wartime London in 1941. 

Rob Wagner, golf course superintendent at Trump National Golf Club, who was kind enough to host us, spent time speaking with TPI members about his relationship with local turfgrass producers and his boss Donald Trump, the President of the United States.

This educational and exciting week was capped off  Thursday night with a harbor cruise of New York City which included dinner, dancing, and some unbelievable views. Sites included the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, Empire State Building, and others. Thanks to everyone who attended and we hope to see you again at  future conferences!