Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Round-Up Update

I received the following response from Kavie Toor regarding the use of ORUnd Up on fields at UBC. [see previous blog post]

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Dear Charles 

 

Thank you for your email,  

 

I was able to connect with my grounds team and am able to share the below response from them:

 

Within Thunderbird Park we currently have significant areas that we have limited active maintenance program, this allows and encourages the biodiversity to flourish and these areas are the home to a large variety of flora and fauna. We are also looking at ways we can enhance these areas and other areas within the park to encourage the growth of the biodiversity within the park. For example, we encourage the areas around all our grass fields to be as diverse as possible (i.e. have weeds in them) we do not treat or spray these areas, allowing these areas to flower to encourage pollinators.  The majority of the footprint of the park is still biological as you probably know grass is an excellent carbon sink, that is very effective at exchanging carbon. We also typically allow clippings to return to the ground to provide a natural fertilizer or to composting system for clippings. Part of the maintenance programs also involves returning materials to flower beds and other areas. 

 

We take the use of chemicals very seriously and do not use them without prior thought being given to adverse effects.  We strive to use the least amount of product possible and to use products that have been deemed safe to the environment and within the related guidelines. We currently use Roundup because it is an approved BC Ministry of the Environment product and becomes inert very shortly after contact with the soil.  We use best practices when spraying (i.e. spraying only when there is no rain and minimal wind to cause drift in the forecast). 

 

As a point of clarification the link you provided was to a study on use of Roundup by farmers on crops. This is broadcast spraying that covers all plant material and not spot spray. As mentioned we are very selective on what and how we spray, we abide by the guidelines for safe and effective application and we limit use.

 

Within the park, there are very limited areas that spray is used. The areas include: bark mulch areas under bleachers and besides the South Turf field, gravel areas around buildings, the retaining wall between the baseball diamond and the edges of all synthetic fields (were the turf meets any of the concrete border) to prevent damage to the fields. We try to limit use of herbicides to spot spraying of the weeds that develop in these areas, we do not spray wide areas just to kill grass.   

 

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our herbicide program 

 

Kavie


My admittedly snarky reply;


Dear Kavie,

 

You did exactly what I though you would – tell me not to worry, it’s fine, etc, etc and gently point to some possible errors or misconceptions in my observations.

 

I suggest sit back, relax and reflect on whether this is really the right thing to do [use round up], even if you can be comfortable in your answer and point to bc approval (which merely allows one to say its okay without considering wider implications).

 

Also, pointing to the fact that the one link I provided was to [use on] a farm doesn’t really exonerate your use, it’s a simplistic deflection by saying the article doesn’t pertain. Obviously, that link wasn’t directly relevant [to athletic fields], it was merely an example of some of the issues and with critical laterally thinking could have been used to consider potential adverse impacts in this industrial educational plant.

 

Let me apologize for not being super clear in my original email. I know that many in the field of landscape arts consider roundup to be minimally destructive and, if used sparingly, to have minimal adverse health effects.  My point was to ask that you and your team take a momentary break, consider some alternative perspectives, not to get defensive and fragile, and consider (since you have acknowledged you are all concerned and seriously great on this topic) how you can be even better.

 

With regards,

 

Charles

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