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Maintaining a Lawn in the Tropics

BY: Melissa Denny It may surprise some but it takes more than just sitting back and watching the grass grow to maintain a healthy lawn in the tropics.  Even though the tropical climate provides a perfect environment for rampant lawn growth, watching the grass grow and grow and  …. grow can be just as problematic and watching it dry off and die in more temperate climates.  To ensure your lawn doesn’t resemble a jungle, it is important for regular maintenance throughout the year.          During the hot humid months, from November through to March, lawns are in their element as spectacular summer storms bring torrential rain. This usually means lush green leaf growth that, at times, appears to be out of control. Some good lawn maintenance can keep this rapid growth period at bay as well as maintain a green, healthy lawn during the cooler months. During the wet season, fertilising is not recommended as it will promote vigorous leaf growth. More than likely you will already be watching your lawn grow before your eyes, yet be unable to mow due to the rain. Instead, apply lime and gypsum to the soil as these act as a soil conditioners. Lime keeps the pH up. Due to the region’s high rainfall, soil can become very acidic which can affect the health of the plant growth. By adding lime to the soil, this maintains a good pH balance and allows the turf to uptake soil nutrients. Completing a pH test and applying lime to correct the levels is the key to promoting healthy turf growth. Gypsum is a clay breaker. One of the reasons soil is compacted and like concrete in most backyards is due to initial building activity. Usually, top soil is taken away during home construction and the ground is compacted making it difficult for water to penetrate the soil. Gypsum is good for breaking down clayey soils enabling the water to penetrate so when using a shovel to dig a hole for the Golden Cane you will probably regret later, it won’t bounce back and hit you in the head to say “I told you so…….” Another wet weather must is to keep lawn mowing equipment in good working order. There is nothing worse when there is a break in the weather and you are unable to mow because of failing lawn equipment due to poor maintenance. Be prepared by having mowers and whipper snipers fuelled and ready to go. Sharp mower blades are essential to ensure the lawn has a sweet, even cut. Unbalanced, blunt blades often leave the turf looking hacked and untidy. Think back to those home haircuts with blunt clippers when your mother hacked into your hair, accidently shearing the top of your left ear leaving you bloodied and permanently scarred. The success to even tidy lawns is for weekly trims in the summer months. This will keep lawn clipping to a minimum. During the winter months mow every 2 to 3 weeks to keep lawns tidy. After the wet season around April, this is the time to apply good quality slow release fertiliser to keep […]

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AUSTRALIAN & QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT FLOOD DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

FINANCIAL SUPPORT AVAILABLE TO TURF PRODUCERS IN EFFECTED AREAS. Flood disaster affected Primary Producers (Turf growers) can access support relief financial assistance from the QRAA (Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority) under the NDRRA (Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements). QRAA is a statutory authority of the Queensland Government established under the Rural and Regional Adjustment Act 1994 (the Act), reporting to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon John McVeigh MP. A low interest loan up to a maximum of $250,000. Clean-up and recovery grants of up to $25,000. On February the 4th the Queensland Government released the “Clean-up and Recovery Grants” of up to $25,000 are now available for small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations in areas severely affected by flooding in Queensland. This assistance, available under Category C of the jointly funded Federal/State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), will initially apply to organisations and primary producers in Bundaberg, North Burnett, Fraser Coast, Gympie and Lockyer Valley.  The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments will continue to assess the impact of the floods on other areas to see if this assistance should be activated elsewhere. The assistance is designed to help with the economic impacts that these devastating floods have had on local businesses and the wider community. The Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy is being made available to individuals in the hardest hit areas of Bundaberg, Gympie, Fraser Coast, North Burnett and Lockyer Valley. The following links are applicable: http://www.treasurer.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2013/015.htm&pageID=003&min=wms&Year=2013&doctype=0 More information about the assistance that is available in each affected local government area can be found on; http://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx More information about how to apply for concessional loans and freight subsidies is available on; http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/30_22441.htm

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Turf Producers Guide for Eradication of Red Imported Fire Ants

Fire Ants are an issue for the turf production industry especially in Southeast Queensland and things change constantly.   Recent changes within the Fire ant Program that have been designed to cut red tape and make it easier for Industry to support the eradication effort whilst still, of course, mitigating the risk of fire ant spread. Biosecurity Queensland have undertaken some recent changes to the “Fire Ant Eradication Program” that will affect the Turf Industry in Queensland. As suggested these changes have been made to cut red tape and make it easier for your Turf businesses to support the eradication effort. Major changes that affect the Turf industry include: After completing fire ant awareness training, businesses can now conduct the initial inspection and ongoing visual surveillance activities for fire ants. This means there is no longer a requirement to book a fire ant inspection with a Biosecurity Queensland inspector. Free training courses are available, simply contact 3310 2873 to book. As we discussed, if there are around 20 people interested from within the Turf Industry, one of our trainers can come to a venue that suits.         NOTE: It is vital that businesses maintain records of all fire ant surveillance activities as our inspectors will request these records, should they be audited. The fire ant restricted area is now aligned to suburb boundaries and has been divided into a high risk area and a low risk area. Businesses can click on this link to a printable fire ant restricted area map to see if they are in or out of the restricted area http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/documents/Biosecurity_EnvironmentalPests/FireAnts-RAMap-SEQ.pdf Obviously, if they operate within the restricted area, they need to be on an Approved Risk Management Plan and abide by movement controls. The DAFF website is also great source of information and is now set up for businesses to apply for a Risk Management Plan online www.daff.qld.gov.au/fireants

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Carbon Tax

The introduction of the carbon tax, effective 1 July 2012, will be the most significant step taken by the Australian Government to transition to a low-carbon future.  Find out the impact it’s expected to have on the nation’s industries by downloading the special report from IBISWorld: Download this special report from IBISWorld here (230 KB)

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Workplace Health & Safety

The goal of occupational safety and health programs is to foster a safe and healthy work environment.   This is a timely reminder that your organisation considers that your safety systems are in place to ensure the prevention of accidents occuring on your farms.  Turf Queensland has developed a Workplace Health & Safety Guide booklet which includes many of the forms required which may assist.  These forms can be downloaded and changed to include your own company names. When undertaking their Turf Accreditation Process (TAP) many turf producers have been asking for names of WH&S auditors that can undertake an audit on their farms. Auditors: WorkLaw Unit 3, 104 Newmarket Road WINDSOR Q 4030 Phone: 3357 1655 www.worklaw.com.au Department of Justice -Workplace Health & Safety Phone 1300 369 915 www.worksafe.qld.gov.au   FORMS:

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