Simcoe Article: Parks chosen as test sites for pesticide alternative

Parks chosen as test sites for pesticide alternative. Two Midland parks will receive a different type of lawn care this season. Tiffin Park and Veterans Park have been selected as trial sites for a pesticide alternative developed by Barrie-based Tender Roots. Nicole Million photo

MIDLAND – Midland is looking to a new technology to help keep its parks free from weeds.

The town has agreed to allow Barrie-based Tender Shoots to use two area parks – Tiffin Park and Veterans Park – as test sites for a product called Black Magic, a pesticide alternative.

“About five years ago, a pesticide ban of some sort was imminent,” president Marcel Lauzon said prior to a demonstration of the product last week at Tiffin Park. “What we wanted to do was come up with something that would meet all of the requirements and be completely pesticide free and be, if not a replacement for pesticides, at least something that might make the use of pesticides less needed.”

In a joint venture with Gowans Research, Tender Shoots began trials of the product in 2007, with the objective of strengthening turf so there’d be less need for pesticides. Lauzon said the resulting formula uses peat moss as a carrier for the formula rather than the usual green paper mulch.

“We did about 14 lawns that first year. In 2008, we did more than 70,” he said. “The results were great, so we took it to market.”

The objective with the Midland sites, he said, is to see how Black Magic works compared to other methods the town has been using.

“With the peat moss as the carrier, it actually adds to the organic content of the soil,” he said.

Lauzon acknowledged the process is a little bit more expensive, but said it has better water retention and other positive attributes.

Coun. Jack Charlebois, who viewed last week’s demonstration, said it appears to be a good alternative.

“It sounds impressive just from what we’ve heard thus far. We have to see the results, though, before we can make a full assessment,” he said, adding the decision as to whether or not to adopt the process is something that would likely come up in next year’s budget discussions.

“We will do spot checks and then see what the results are. Then (staff) would write a report to council and they’d assess findings,” he said. “Council would have to make a decision as to the cost for doing this in our parks, the environmental (impact) compared to sprays, etc.

“Probably a decision won’t be made until spring.”

Simcoe Article: Parks chosen as test sites for pesticide alternative.