Hand weeding and the benefits of incentives

Integrated pest management involves a variety of management strategies to keep pest populations below levels that are economically and aesthetically damaging without creating a hazard to people and the environment. One control method is hand pulling weeds. At Shadow Wood Country Club in Bonita Springs, FL they required all maintenance employees to pull at least 100 weeds per day. The results of this program led to less chemical applications, which also reduced costs, while protecting the environment. The practice has been found to be most beneficial when weeds are pulled near lakes and natural areas. 

When the economy forced them to do away with overtime, they changed this practice of scheduling hand weeding to an incentive program. 

From Eric Ruha, Director of Golf Course Operations: “Employees are encouraged to constantly be on the lookout for weeds in the course of their other daily tasks rather than the job of pulling weeds being a scheduled task. They turn in their “weed bags” daily and receive credit for that day. All employees who turn in at least 4 bags weekly are given a raffle ticket for that week. Once a month we hold a raffle and give away several prizes. Prizes are vendor appreciation gifts or items that we order in the vendor point rebate programs.  In this way we have kept the practice going strong while keeping the staff motivated to participate and without spending any extra money.” 

The incentives program has been ongoing for a few years now and Eric considers it a great success.The cost is minimal since Ziploc bags and raffle tickets are low cost items, vendors supply the raffle prizes, and employees are hand weeding during the course of their regular activities. The incentive is good for morale since everyone gets involved and loves to win stuff. Environmental benefits include a reduction of chemical use and lake banks are maintained without the use of chemicals. Members love to see course employees being environmentally friendly and enjoy the lack of weeds on the playing surfaces. 

This is a great example of how a superintendent was able to motivate his staff to get a task done. What activity do you want to accomplish that you might be able to provide a similar carrot to your staff? 

From left to right – Alexander Alvarez, Felix Ortiz and Rolando Alcon with their “weed bags” and the board used to track them.

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