A venerable Who’s Who in the world of turfgrass graced Sydney’s ANZ Stadium last week to join in the launch of a new turf production accreditation program called TurfPlus®.
Stopping short of any sod-turning on the pitch in a literal sense of the term; there was however, much new-ground broken on the day in unveiling the TurfPlus® compliance program that bought such a collection of turf professionals together.
Attending the event were all manner of specialists, from turf breeders to curators, facility managers and maintenance operators; through to turf producers and those who specify turf in the landscaping industry.
Speaking on the launch, TurfPlus® General Manager John O’Brien also commented on the program and the wide-array of turf industry representation drawn to the event.
“It’s been a great day really, with a broad-spectrum of guests from the turf game who’ve come along.
“Golf Course Super’s, Racing Managers, Councils, Parks and even Planning Personnel made up a fair majority of those here,” O’Brien pointed out.
“And then there are those a bit closer to the coalface here as well . . . like our many turf producers and even some high-profile names like Brad Fittler who spoke today in support of the initiative”.
TurfPlus® claims to offer more than just being a compliance program, branding itself as an Integrated Management System that caters to turfgrowers needs, right along the chain of production.
According to O’Brien, the program has been in development for some time now by the Greenspace Turf Co-operative with their initial focus beginning Work Health and Safety (WH&S) and Quality Assurance (QA).
“In developing the program, we found that the new Chain of Responsibility (CoR) Laws around transport and also Environmental Management (EMS) compliance we’re bigger issues for growers, and what gave them even more grief on-farm were concerns around Human Resources (HR).
“So now, all up we’ve got a solid compliance and accreditation program that covers these five main areas for growers; WH&S, CoR, EMS, QA and HR. TurfPlus® gives them the advanced tools and training to achieve compliance and best-practice in these areas; there’s nothing out there that that compares to such a specialist system for growers,” he reiterated.
What they said on the launch that sets TurfPlus® apart from other programs is its cloud-based heart that links all the components together to take it far beyond what paper-based systems can do.
The online nature of the program is said to allow for everything to be always up to date and keep growers abreast of the latest laws and legislation.
“This is an incredible suite of tools that we’ve bought together into this program, but we don’t pretend to be something that we’re not,” O’Brien hastens to add.
“It’s a solid accreditation and training system that we’ve got; there’s a set of rules or procedures to follow and we get growers to levels of best practice – and being audit-ready,” he explains.
“But we don’t claim to be certifiers. We’re determined to maintain our independence and credibility and that involves certification being carried out by qualified external auditors.
“When you’re talking international standards like ISO 9001 for Quality, ISO 14001 for Environmental Management or ISO 45001 for WH&S, well these are the standards that we’ll get growers audit-ready for; but it falls into the realm of specialist certifiers and not some fabricated approach,” O’Brien cautions.
“I noticed with some interest the recent announcement by the NSW Government to come down hard on dodgy certifiers across the building industry.”
“It may be building certifiers they are currently targeting, but it’s similar in turf – we’d like to see any underhanded or questionable claims and practices cleaned-out in our industry, as well,” he says.
The reforms to which he refers, passed in Parliament recently as the Building and Development Certifiers Bill 2018, would allow the NSW Government to make it harder for rorters or those issuing misleading certificates.
O’Brien maintains there is the need for a turf industry code of practice to bring growers and resellers into line as far as their claims are concerned and to help minimise any false claims or passing-off – especially when it came to variety substitution.
“Ultimately what we’re about is creating safer, more compliant operations, where growers can realise greater efficiency, profitability and sustainability into the long-term.
“And apart from these benefits for growers, we want to see the end-product that they are producing under the TurfPlus® banner is consistently the best turf product it can be, with their customers also major beneficiaries in the long-run,” he goes on to say.
The TurfPlus® program is currently taking its first round of applications to commence training in the New Year and any enquiries can be made at email@example.com or phone 1300 094577.
David Raison | email: firstname.lastname@example.org | phone: 1300 094877