Chemical Use

Plant protection products and fertilisers are useful tools in turfgrass management and can even be used for conservation gain (e.g. to selectively remove grass from within heather areas or to eradicate non-native invasive plant species). However, they are potentially harmful to the environment and human health and should be used, stored and disposed of responsibly to minimise risks to wildlife and the wider environment.

  • Cultural turfgrass management techniques such as ‘switching’, aerating and top dressing can be used as preventative measures for pests and disease. It is also useful to monitor and record changes in turfgrass in order to identify pests and diseases quicker and more accurately in the future. More on Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Use and Storage of Plant Protection Products

  • Plant protection products are an important tool in golf course maintenance. However, chemicals must be handled with care and must be used, stored and disposed of according to law.
  • A thorough environmental risk assessment, including an assessment of site-specific environmental factors, must be carried out prior to any application of a plant protection product. More on environmental risk assessments
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 ensure that employers protect their employees and members of the public who may be exposed to chemicals or other hazardous substances and should be followed to ensure safety in the workplace. More on COSHH
  • A Local Environment Risk Assessment for Pesticides (LERAP) must be carried out before applying any plant protection products close to surface water and/or wetlands. Once assessed, the product will be assigned a specific buffer zone size. More on LERAP
  • Weather conditions such as wind and rain can lead to spray drift and run-off of chemicals into the wider landscape, so ensure that spraying is not carried out in unfavourable weather. When to spray
  • Engineering controls can be adjusted (e.g. pressure, spray quality and dose rate) to reduce the potential for spray drift thus providing more targeted spraying and reducing waste. More on engineering controls
  • Only NPTC (National Proficiency Test Certificate) qualified personnel, wearing the correct protective equipment, are allowed to apply plant protection products. Each application should also be recorded, along with sprayer maintenance records. More on qualifications and records
  • Plant protection products must be stored in line with guidelines set out in the Agricultural Information Sheet 16: Guidance on Storing Pesticides for Farmers and other Professional Users. More on the storage of plant protection products
  • Tasks pre and post-application such as the filling and mixing of spray tanks and the washdown of equipment must be done so with caution. More pre and post-application steps
  • Waste packaging must be triple rinsed and stored in sealed containers until removed by an approved waste contractor/returned to the manufacturer. More on disposal

Use and Storage of Fertilisers

  • Fertiliser use must be confined to in play areas to reduce run-off into ecologically important land and should not be excessively applied, so as to reduce costs and labour.
  • A buffer zone of at least 3 m should be maintained around any surface water features and wetland areas on the golf course. More on buffer zones
  • Weather conditions can lead to extensive run-off, leaching or volatilisation of fertilisers and therefore applications must be timed to minimise these risks. When to apply
  • Methods of application must be tailored to the particular fertiliser type (e.g. liquid, powder or granule) and to the target area of the golf course. More on engineering controls
  • In-house training should be undertaken before any individual is allowed to apply fertiliser. More on operator training
  • Fertiliser must be stored in a clean, dry environment in an elevated position, not placed on the ground. More on storage
  • As with plant protection products, the filling of fertiliser application equipment must be carried out on a hard standing, bunded area and washdown water should be treated immediately. More pre and post-application steps
  • Fertiliser packaging can be disposed of as normal controlled waste.


  • Legislation relating to the use, storage and disposal of plant protection products in order to protect the environment changes regularly and golf clubs should always make sure that they follow the most recent, up to date guidelines. More on legislation
  • All products new to the market must undergo a rigorous approvals process before being permitted for use and existing products are subject to a review of approval under the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD). More on The Sustainable Use Directive