Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA) proudly hosted its highly anticipated Global Turf Conference and Awards Dinner in the beautiful Tweed Heads, New South Wales. This year’s conference was truly global, with esteemed guests and speakers from the UK, USA, and Southeast Asia converging to share insights and expertise. As the largest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere, the conference offered an incredible opportunity for LSA’s national network of accredited turf Members to learn, network, and be inspired by an impressive array of speakers.
The conference kicked off with a warm welcome on Monday, 31st July, with a canapes and drinks welcome function. The event was graced by industry partners, whose support played a pivotal role in making the conference a resounding success. Among LSA’s long-standing Platinum partners, Husqvarna Australia stood tall, renowned for their pioneering gardening and lawn equipment that has been taming the wild since 1689. Similarly, Trimax Mowing Systems left attendees amazed with their innovation in producing industry-leading commercial mowing equipment.
LSA’s collaboration with a range of industry partners has been vital in advancing the turf sector. Partners such as Greenway Turf Solutions, Finlease, Nuturf, Firefly Automatix, ICL Specialty Fertilizers, Turf Biosolutions, Syngenta, Living Turf, Equipment Solutions, Envu, STRI, AusGAP, and Lawn Lovers contributed significantly to the conference’s success.
The two-day conference, held on 31st July and 1st August, was packed with a blend of entertainment, insightful business content, and thought-provoking sessions from both local and international guests.
Andrew Daddo was our MC for the event, the celebrated Australian television personality, delivered an engaging opening keynote, sharing his genuine interest in the turf industry and captivating the audience with his own lawn experiences.
Gavin Rogers, Lawn Solutions Australia Director and CEO, reflected on LSA’s achievements, future goals, and the collective impact they aim to achieve in the years to come.
The conference featured an esteemed lineup of speakers from around the world.
Jonathan MacDonald, a strategic changemaker, award-winning author, and keynote speaker, shared valuable insights into change, digital transformation, and mindset. Jonathon provided some big-picture assessments of what it takes to create success in our businesses but also provided some really direct and tangible advice that could be taken on board and actioned.
Brandon Eubanks from Patten Seed Co./Super-Sod (USA) highlighted their journey of growing the business to 10 turf production facilities and over 20 retail stores, providing the supply of turfgrasses across several US states. Super-Sod is arguably the largest turf production company in the US, with production and harvesting capacities unmatched in the US, but quite possibly the entire world.
Dr Ambika Chandra, a leading researcher from Texas A&M University (USA), showcased her role in breeding warm-season turfgrass species for various applications, particularly the ones brought to Australia through LSA’s collaborations. We were so pleased to have Dr Chandra with us here in Australia, with a range of newly developed buffalo grass species from Dr Chandra’s program currently being under assessment here in Australia.
Dr Christian Spring, the lead scientist at STRI (UK), revealed the institute’s extensive services, including stadium designs, sports turf R&D, and consultancy, emphasising the quality of sports turf engineering. Dr Spring has an impressive resume as a self-professed ‘turf geek’, where he gets to be involved in the scientific aspects of preparing and maintaining world-class sports turf surfaces like those featured at facilities like Wimbledon and Wembley Stadium in the UK.
Scott Rowe, the Open Spaces Manager at Shellharbour City Council, shared his passion for creating quality open spaces within budget constraints, with turf playing a pivotal role. New and improved varieties like Sir Grange Zoysia and TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda have provided solutions in his council region that save their teams time and ultimately allow them to allocate their resources more efficiently.
Brad Burgess, the founder of Sports Turf Solutions (STS), presented his journey of setting up successful turf farms and sports field construction businesses in Southeast Asia. Brad has supplied new and improved zoysia varieties like Sir Grange Zoysia, to some of the world’s best golf courses in the region and continues to adopt best practices for creating highly sustainable and low-input golf courses.
Simon Hutton, a leading figure in the Sports Turf Industry from Tillers Turf (UK), showcased his vast experience in turf farming, supplying turf and maintenance services to most of the top stadiums and sports across the UK. Referred to as the ‘UK Turf Master’, Simon started his career at a very young age and continues to grow his impressive resume of projects and innovations within his sector of the UK turf industry.
Tommy Dean, the renowned American comedian, provided a light-hearted yet insightful take on the cultural differences between Americans and Australians, bringing laughter to the audience. Tommy has featured at three Lawn Solutions conferences now, with his comprehension and assessment of our industry providing plenty of laughs to everyone in the crowd.
Lawn Solutions Australia invites a range of turf industry guests each year to the conference and this year we invited the very best of those who represent lawns in Australia on social media. In a testament to the growing influence of these lawn enthusiasts, LSA invited top representatives from Australian Lawn Fanatics AUSLF, Lawn Tips, The Aussie Lawn, and Lawn Care Australia. These “Lawnfluencers” (a term I’m sure many of them are still becoming comfortable with) have significantly contributed to online lawn communities, offering valuable insights and expertise.
The conference culminated with the LSA Awards night, recognising outstanding achievements and dedication of LSA Members and their teams. The awards celebrated excellence in various aspects, setting high standards for the industry across the country.
The Lawn Solutions Australia Global Turf Conference 2023 was an unforgettable event that brought together the global turf community in a spirit of camaraderie, excellence, and innovation. The conference’s impact will undoubtedly resonate within the industry for years to come, as LSA and its Members continue to adopt and seek out innovation, foster collaboration as a network, and continue to set the standard for the turf industry and the future of Australian lawns.