Integrated Vegetation Management Field Day
By Jp Gellermann, UF/IFAS Extension Director Pinellas County
Roughly three years ago, there was an idea to bring together vegetation management professionals from around the county to share and learn about new approaches, machines, and ideas surrounding vegetation management. It was sort of a crazy idea that had not been done before.
This is an unsung group of the hardest-working people I know. They are the folks on the mowers, with the hatches, and weed whackers. They are the ones in the hot sun, working through the summers to keep our parks, preserves, canals, and ditches clear and looking good.
Through the development of the Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) program, which focuses on suppressing unwanted vegetation (weeds) before they get fully grown, program stakeholders felt a field day would be beneficial. They thought that by providing these professionals with an opportunity to gather and see new machinery and approaches to their jobs, they could discuss the different approaches, successes, and failures, replicating the best and avoiding the worst.
On March 16, 2023, probably the coldest day of the year, and the wettest, we had our first IVM Field Day. We had 126 registered participants, a dozen vehicles, and multiple vendors displaying all sorts of cool ways of controlling unwanted vegetation. We had weed torches and remote-controlled mowers, air boats with aquatic weed sprayers, and dozen different types of mulch. There were bucket trucks for pruning large trees and a hot foam machine to kill weeds on hardscapes without the use of toxic chemicals. We had folks smiling and showing off their best stuff, sharing with their colleagues from other cities and the county.
As with any good UF/IFAS Extension program, there were multiple lectures and CEU courses available on topics from aquatic weeds to biological controls for Brazilian Pepper trees. It was an amazing first-ever field day for vegetation professionals from five cities and two Pinellas County departments. There was comradery and laughter, smiles, and a lot of information sharing. As a person who attends a great number of conferences and seminars, this was one of the most memorable and enjoyable events I have ever been apart!
I am looking forward to the 2024 Integrated Vegetative Management Field because I know it will be bigger and even better! Many thanks to the IVM Advisory Committee and the faculty and staff that made this event possible!