4 FM quick reads on pest management
1. Grounds Care and Bird Control
Grounds managers with institutional and commercial facilities need to understand the threats birds pose and the available control options in order to design effective bird-control systems.
Besides making a mess of building facades, birds can contribute to the spread of disease. The fungal disease exists in soil and bird droppings. Humans can contract it by touching bird droppings or infected soil, and it can be airborne.
To control bird populations, building occupants and visitors can help reduce attractiveness of facilities and grounds to roosting birds. Their involvement helps managers develop the most effective bird control systems.
First, everyone in the area should be discouraged from feeding birds.
Second, managers can use exclusion techniques to keep birds under control and out of the area. Doors should remain closed, and windows should have screens. Warehouses and large commercial buildings, such as retail stores and airports, commonly have bird populations established inside, which originated when doors were left open.
Third, managers should encourage building occupants to report sightings of unwanted birds immediately before the bird population becomes established.
2. Bird Control: Spotlight on Geese
Grounds managers need to understand the threats birds pose and the available control options to be able to design effective bird control systems.
Besides making a mess of building facades, birds can contribute to the spread of disease, such as histoplasmosis. The fungal disease exists in soil and bird droppings. Humans can contract it by touching bird droppings or infected soil, and it can be airborne.
The Canada goose can be very destructive and messy. It is estimated geese can eat up to 5 pounds of turf per day and produce up to 1.5 pounds of droppings. Large, continually grazing populations also can compact turf areas and compromise water supplies.
To establish effective bird control systems for geese, a good first step is restoring the native perennial flowers around the ponds, as well as in lawns areas that don't need to be turf.
"When we establish native plant material within our landscapes, geese avoid these areas and opt to populate landscapes dominated by turf grass," says Jack Pizzo, founder of Pizzo & Associates Ltd. Ecological Restoration in Leland, Ill.
Cost is always a factor, Pizzo says. The cost to establish wildflowers is usually lower than the alternative. Where barrier plantings are not an option, Pizzo offers these tactics to reduce geese populations.
- Reduce food sources.
- Decrease the size of lawn areas surrounding water.
- Curtail fertilizer use. Geese prefer lush, succulent, tender grass.
- Reduce or eliminate mowing around the edges of water. In taller grass, geese cannot easily find new, delectable shoots. Taller grass also acts as a barrier to block their line of sight from the water, their main mode of protection from predators.
3. Water-Efficient Irrigation
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, water-efficient irrigation.
The primary goal in irrigation for institutional and commercial facilities is reducing use of potable water in landscapes — ideally, by about 50 percent from established baselines. Inefficient irrigation is a big culprit in water waste. Most irrigation systems installed more than five years ago operate at less than 45 percent efficiency. WaterSense guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require a minimum of 70 percent efficiency.
The first step in improving efficiency is to conduct a water audit. Call a licensed landscape or irrigation contractor who can pinpoint waste and recommend strategies for savings. These strategies likely will include installing flow meters to monitor and control water use. Most systems have automatic shutoff features, so if a line happens to break, water flow will cease.
From an efficiency standpoint, drip-irrigation systems are an excellent option. The lines run about 2 inches below the surface, and water drips directly into the roots of plants. Drip-irrigation systems have an efficiency of 95 percent, compared to 50-65 percent efficiency of a traditional, overhead system.
If an existing irrigation system requires optimizing, managers can use several strategies. One strategy involves replacing older irrigation heads. Newer models can greatly improve the accuracy of water disbursement. These models irrigate turf and plants based on the individual amounts required, rather than overwatering in some areas and under-watering in others.
Managers also can have irrigation systems designed and installed so trees, shrubs, and ground-cover plants are in separate zones. As plants become established, the system adjusts or discontinues watering by zone.
4. Sustainability: Integrated pest management
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, integrated pest management.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is gaining popularity among grounds managers seeking more sustainable options for traditional methods of protecting buildings, turf and landscapes from pests. IPM programs offer guidance based on information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment, along with available pest-control methods, to manage pest damage more economically, safely, and sustainably.
One organization, the IPM Institute of North America — www.ipminstitute.org — has developed a certification entitled Green Shield Certified, recognizing institutional and commercial facilities that meet IPM guidelines. A closer look at some of the institute's requirements can offer managers a framework for making the move to IPM.
To achieve the Green Shield certification, a facility must meet minimum requirements. For example, the facility needs to meet legal requirements for posting and notification of pesticide applications, for pesticide applicator training and certification, and for recordkeeping on pesticide application. The facility also must provide proper personal protective equipment and ensure it is in good condition and used when appropriate.
The facility also must have corresponding copies of the pesticide label and material safety data sheets for applied pesticides in a central location and available to staff or the public.