“The construction of a golf course is the construction of a landscape”
ICL’s Technical Managers Around The World Oliver Heyne
When it comes to keeping plants and turfgrass in peak condition, ICL has the best specialist teams all over the world. Although ICL is a global player, we firmly believe in a local approach. Different countries have their own climate, their own challenges and therefore need different solutions. That is where the expertise of ICL’s Technical Managers over the world comes into play. We asked them about their backgrounds, motivations and specific challenges in their market.
When you think of golf courses, you may not immediately picture Germany. Yet there is a big market for it. Oliver Heyne, Area Sales Manager Germany, knows that all too well. He has been working in the sector for almost 27 years. First as a greenkeeper, but for the last ten years as a special turf consultant at ICL. “It’s great if we manage to find solutions for practical use.” According to Oliver, these are not the solutions that are designed to generate maximum turnover, but rather the solutions that offer the optimal situation to the customer.
The construction of a landscape
“When I started turf maintenance on a golf course almost 27 years ago, I never imagined that I would become a salesman in the supply industry. On the contrary, I wanted to create something directly with my own hands. This applied to the daily maintenance of golf and sports fields, as well as to the construction of golf courses. The latter is synonymous with landscaping for me. Because the construction of a golf course is the construction of a landscape.” he says.
The creation of a turf is a special process, Oliver tells us. “It’s just amazing to see the greens emerge after 3 to 4 ½ days – under midsummer conditions – and have to mow for the first time (!) 19 days after sowing. My foster father once said: “If you manage to get the golf course in the best possible condition, taking into account the budget and the respective weather conditions, that is pure joy.” A quote too good not to share.” Oliver thinks. And this applies to all landscaping areas and should be included in every conversation with customers, he believes. “The problems and the available budget can differ, but all assignments have one thing in common: the possibilities must be used optimally!”
But of course there are factors that can influence the approach of a technical manager. Think of the weather for example, or certain local animals or cultural aspects. It can have a great impact on how grasses grow or how they need to be treated. “The past five years have been characterised by mixed weather; wet periods alternated with periods that were too dry. The last droughts have certainly shaped the years 2018 to 2022. A major challenge for many greenkeepers, site managers and landscape gardeners, but also an opportunity to test the benefits of Wetting Agents.” This is a product that retains water in drier conditions. Under wet conditions, Wetting Agents drain excess water into the soil. This reduces the number of wet/dry spots and prevents hardening of the bottom and water-repellent areas.
The importance of sustainability
Each country has a different climate and therefore requires a different approach. Oliver tells us about the specific challenges in Germany when it comes to turf management, like the ‘Gray leaf spot disease’ that broke out in German stadiums a few years ago. “The disease developed in certain plants (Lolium Perenne) and at warm temperatures. This made it so that grasses against this grey leaf spot disease became very popular in the country. The high temperatures and high humidity in the country increasingly caused snow mould pressure during the autumn and winter. As a result, new treatment strategies and mechanical healthcare suddenly became important. Light and air from the removal of trees and shrubs, the targeted use of acid fertilizers, humidifiers and over seeding varieties that are tolerant to snow mould are just a few examples.” Oliver explains. ICL considers it very important to develop sustainable products in the field of mineral fertilizers. One result that has emerged from this is, for example, the Sierrablen Plus Pearl series, with the recycled product struvite. “This is a mineral composed of nitrogen, phosphate and magnesium from sewage treatment plants. A remarkable contribution, knowing that phosphate will become scarce in the future.”
As you can read, being part of the ICL team in Germany and Austria and therefore (ideally) seen as an honest contact for his clients is all that Oliver ever wanted on a professional level. “I see the future very rosy. At ICL I can really work on my passion and I can put my knowledge and skills into practice. The past ten ICL years, where I worked as a consultant, were never boring. And I am sure that the next ten years will be just as exciting!”