Innovation in the Green Industry

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April 4, 2019 at 3:11 pm Category:

The root of innovation can be traced to one simple question

When you think about innovation, what comes to mind? Brainstorming new ideas? Experimenting with new products? How about improving existing processes and procedures? 

Innovation is all about building on the ideas, products, services and processes established by those who came before us.

The root of innovation can be traced to one simple question: How can we save time and money while not sacrificing quality? A simple question with many different answers, especially in the diverse industry that we work in.

Innovation in ...

Turfgrass

Innovation in the turfgrass industry has allowed for golf courses and sports fields to maximize their playing conditions. New and updated seed, fertilizer and chemical formulas have aided in the improvement of water conservation, disease control and overall quality of turf. While turfgrass managers have more tools, information and analytics available to them than ever before, it’s important to understand your micro-climate and how the products you’re applying will work together.  

Syngenta’s “Action” line of fungicides offer long-lasting control over several of the most prominent diseases facing turfgrass professionals. The “Action” products, when used together in a program, yield terrific results. 

"Rotating Secure Action with Daconil Action or Heritage Action fungicides provides superintendents with a very powerful result in terms of drought mitigation, improved disease control and the ability to recover from abiotic stress for their entire course."

Mike Agnew - Technical Services Manager (Syngenta)

Secure Action Fungicide – Helps prevent and quickly recover from biotic and abiotic stress. 

Daconil Action Fungicide – Bridges the gap between genetic resistance and conventional disease control by activating the plant’s own natural defenses. 

Heritage Action Fungicide – Offers hybrid technology that controls disease while protecting against heat and drought. 

via Syngenta

Plant Food Company has been on the forefront of optimizing premium liquid fertilizer blends specifically for their customer’s needs. One of their most popular products is Hydration A-Plus. Hydration A-Plus is a hydrating agent which dissolves bicarbonates and frees calcium, and the available soil calcium will then displace soil sodium.

This process results in: 

  • Faster water penetration into soil
  • Consistent soil moisture due to uniform water movement
  • Prevents LDS due to its ability to hold moisture in soils that are
    water repellent
  • Dissolves bicarbonates due to the long-lasting acid

Commercial Equipment

Toro’s century-long presence in the green industry can be attributed to their willingness to change, adapt and improve in order to stay relevant and offer value to their customers. After all, what originally began as the Bull Tractor Company in the early 1900s building tractor engines evolved into The Toro Company, a world leader in golf and industrial turf management and eventually, the homeowner market.

Throughout its’ rich history, Toro has demonstrated a unique ability to problem solve in the form of product innovation. Providing solutions to things like cutting large portions of turf in half the time and mowing greens to less than a quarter-inch firmly cemented Toro as leaders in the golf and turf management industry.

In 1920, Toro created the Minikahda Fairway Mower by attaching five lawn mowers on the front of a Toro tractor. In 1924, they’d introduce their first greens mower and then just one year later, they rolled out the Sea Serpent fairway sprinkler system. Fast forward a few decades to the early sixties and Toro had established itself in the irrigation business by purchasing Most O’Matic. By 1972, Toro was the most widely used automatic equipment in golf course irrigation.

Showing immense value in innovation and product development from its conception, Toro opened their first R&D facility in 1952 in Bloomington, MN to test new product concepts and conduct agronomic research. It was the first such facility in the world. Over the years, Toro has valued innovation like few in the commercial equipment business.

From the Minikahda Fairway Mower in 1920 to the Outcross 9060 in 2018, Toro has continually been on the frontlines of innovation in the green industry.

Toro Outcross 9060

The Toro Outcross 9060 is in many ways a culmination of the decades of innovation from Toro. The tractor-utility vehicle hybrid is the epitome of “do more with less”. The ultimate challenge for most superintendents and grounds managers is making the best use of your time. The projects start to pile up and mother nature waits for no one. Before you know it, you’re a few weeks behind.

Click to Expand

The Outcross 9060 can tackle almost any job on a course or field — big or small — all while remaining gentle on the turf. The flexibility of the machine translates into efficiency for your maintenance program. Instead of going through the hassle of renting equipment or hiring additional labor, switch out one of the X amount of the available accessories and get the job done.

While Toro has championed innovation in the green industry, it’s dependent upon each and every superintendent and maintenance staff to apply these product and process enhancements to their operation.

Outdoor Living

Backyards are no longer disconnected from the living and kitchen areas of most homes. When you step into your backyard, it should feel like an extension of your house. Equipped with patio furniture, surround sound, an outdoor kitchen and games for the kids — this is what the ordinary backyard has evolved into. When you invest in outdoor living, you aren’t just adding flair to an otherwise basic backyard. You’re upgrading your property. 

Some of the popular products for homeowners looking to enhance their backyard experience are fire pits, outdoor audio systems, mosquito repellent systems and landscape lighting

Another popular backyard addition are water features. Available in smaller, kit-style packages like this Slate Urn Fountain Kit, but also more substantial options like the Large Pondless Waterfall, which provides up to a 26-foot pondless waterfall. 

Companies like Aquascape have countered the intimidation factor associated with water features. Gone are the days of meticulously piecing together a 5-figure water feature. Aquascape has developed kits which puts less onus on the homeowner in terms of choosing the feature’s components, and also makes things easier for contractors, too. Complete with a pump, reservoir, tubing and decorative features, installation should only take a few hours when handled by professional contractors.

Of course, there are still plenty of streams and water features out there that do go above and beyond a simple plug-and-play kit.

Landscape Lighting

Innovation from brands like Kichler and FX Luminaire have changed the way landscape lighting professionals design and install lighting systems. Affording clients the power to adjust their fixtures with the touch of a finger has been transformative. Contractors now have more freedom to design and install without the constant worry of follow-up calls or additional maintenance.

With the introduction of lighting technology such as Kichler’s Variable Lumen Output, gone are the days of methodically planning and installing lighting systems, only to dig up and re-install the system less than a few years later due to a changing landscape. When you aren’t sure which lumen output makes the most sense for a particular application, you can start with a single fixture and adjust the lighting output over time. VLO allows contractors unmatched flexibility when dealing with unique customer design requests or an evolving landscape.

As contractor flexibility has increased, so have the lighting possibilities for homeowners through technology like FX Luminaire’s Luxor ZDC Controller. Luxor offers users control over zoning, dimming and RGBW color creation capabilities. The luxury of changing your lighting colors and sequences based on holidays, events and parties made possible through innovation. Oh yeah, Luxor has WiFi capability, too.

Retrofitting options and the ability to adjust and update older models of fixtures and sequences to improve an existing system have been critical. Retrofitting involves taking new and improved technology and updating existing fixtures that may be outdated in the hopes of saving money and energy. With the popularity of interior and exterior updates to homes, there is often a need to also update landscape lighting fixtures. Contractors have more flexibility when designing and installing as they’re not restricted by outdated technology or discontinued products.

Irrigation

In the irrigation field, water conservation is of the utmost importance. Smart irrigation has changed the way contractors and golf course superintendents manage their properties and courses. Customized watering schedules and run times are programmed specifically for a landscape, course or field. Smart irrigation controllers are capable of monitoring soil conditions, weather, and other factors. The controllers then automatically adjust the watering schedule. 

Not only does smart irrigation push back on the inefficiencies of older irrigation systems, it provides users much more control over their property and watering schedules. The connectivity afforded by the mobile apps & the smart control systems greatly reduces the stress and onus put on green industry professionals when they clock out for the day.

In the past, prior to the invention of smart irrigation technology, any system issues or weather-related updates were cause for dropping whatever you were doing to be on-site to address the problem. It doesn’t register quite how big of a difference the WiFi irrigation connectivity has played. You no longer have to move on pins and needles outside of work, wary to commit to anything that might pull you away from your existing projects.

For homeowners, the ability to schedule, adjust and update your watering schedules based on current or future weather trends is critical to water conservation. The ability to make those changes from wherever you may be via smartphone is an absolute game-changer. You’ll save yourself time and money from bothering your contractors for small system adjustments. 

On the golf course, software like Toro Lynx Central Control gives superintendents total reign over the finest of details related to course irrigation. Automated reports detailing system performance help keep you informed and can assist in future decision-making. 

Organized by hole and area, Toro Lynx lets you map out your course exactly how you want. Quickly find stations, holes or entire areas that did not operate as planned to prevent and reduce wasted water, saving yourself time later on. Smart irrigation has allowed golf course superintendents to irrigate more efficiently while saving time and money. 

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