Maximizing manpower

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May 31, 2019 -  By
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Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience/gettyimages.com/can72

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience/gettyimages.com/can72

Lawn care operators should implement tools and strategies to increase efficiency during the busy summer months.

Gil Del Rosario

Gil Del Rosario

As Gil Del Rosario travels around the country, he hears lawn care operators (LCOs) discuss one common problem: finding and retaining quality labor.

“Through my travels, I get the chance to talk to many LCOs and one problem that is ubiquitous is the labor issue,” says Del Rosario, market development specialist with Corteva Agriscience™. “No matter where I go, LCOs are voicing that concern.”

Not only is it challenging for LCOs to find and retain quality labor, but increases in hourly wages and the rising costs of taxes and health care only add to the struggle. To mitigate the challenges associated with labor, Del Rosario says it’s important for LCOs to implement tools and strategies to increase efficiency and keep production rates high, particularly during the busy summer months.

“When companies do get someone on board, it makes sense to maximize the return on that labor by keeping them as productive as possible,” Del Rosario says.

Weed management can be one of an LCO’s most labor-intensive tasks, especially when done by hand or mechanically with a hoe or other tool. Del Rosario says incorporating preemergence products like Snapshot® specialty herbicide is one way to decrease the amount of labor required to keep landscape beds weed free. Snapshot is a granular product that controls more than 125 different kinds of weeds and is safe to use on or around 635 ornamental plants. Del Rosario says LCOs like the fact that Snapshot comes in either 25- or 50-pound bags and that it is a bright yellow color that is easy to see and apply uniformly.

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience/gettyimages.com/Elenathewise

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience/gettyimages.com/Elenathewise

“Hand-weeding is very labor intensive and it’s easy to miss the small ones, which will just continue to grow unimpeded when an LCO leaves the property,” Del Rosario says. “Herbicides in general can help to minimize this labor-intensive job and will also provide residual control for several months.”
Because products like Snapshot provide residual control, Del Rosario says LCOs can focus their efforts on other, more productive tasks within the organization. This also opens up time for important training and educational opportunities available during the summertime.

“Summer is a very busy time for serving clients. But it is also the time of year when a lot of training programs are available through universities and manufacturers because it is an opportune time to show performance and agronomic concepts in most regions,” he says. “LCOs have to try to find ways to minimize demands on labor so they can take the opportunity to attend these events that make for more effective and educated crews.”

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience/istock.com/DIGIcal

Photo courtesy of Corteva Agriscience/istock.com/DIGIcal

Preemergent herbicides like Snapshot can also help LCOs in regions where postemergent herbicides containing the active ingredient glyphosate have recently come under scrutiny. Glyphosate has even been banned in certain areas, taking away an effective tool LCOs have used for postemergent weed control, Del Rosario said.

“For LCOs who can no longer use that effective tool, that is where Snapshot fits in,” he says. “It effectively controls the issue of weed management by preventing them from ever coming up and allows LCOs to circumnavigate the glyphosate issue.”

As another way to increase efficiency, Del Rosario suggests company owners identify top performers who can serve as specialists within the organization. Whether it’s dedicating one person to the upkeep and maintenance of certain pieces of equipment, or assigning someone as the company’s in-field training expert that crew members can go to with questions, this strategy helps streamline daily operations.

“Look at the most responsible and dependable members of your staff and give them the ability to be more versatile in the organization,” Del Rosario says. “These are things that will foster their development and growth.”
Del Rosario also recommends LCOs look for tools to try to increase effectiveness and efficiency in the field.

“This might be as simple as changing to a sprayer nozzle that gives a wider width and minimizes the passes techs have to make in any given area,” Del Rosario explains. “Look for tools and methods to help minimize labor intensity and improve efficiency each day.”


®™Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. State restrictions on the sale and use of Snapshot apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Always read and follow label directions.
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