This photo from the Battle Creek Enquirer newspaper shows the devastation wrought by the mistaken application of Roundup.
Maine–(ENWESPF)–Wed, Aug 10, 2011. This story might be funny if it weren’t inherently tragic.
Back in early spring, folks in Battle Creek, Michigan, were planning for a great season of baseball and other sports at their beloved Bailey Park Sports Complex. A new scoreboard and other improvements had been installed. A local lawn chemical contracting company was hired for the job of keeping the grass emerald green.
By the end of June, however, those fields of dreams had turned into a very real nightmare: massive swaths of dead, brown grass. Officials began looking for the usual suspects of drought or insects, but instead discovered maybe the biggest fielding error of all-time. The lawn chemical applicator thought he was applying fertilizer, but was instead applying Roundup — the wildly toxic plant killer that wipes out grass and weeds simultaneously. Here’s the local newspaper’s take on the story.
The ignorance of the applicator in the case is virtually inconceivable. Chemical fertilizer and Roundup generally don’t look — or smell — anything alike. That someone is even capable of such a high-profile faux pas makes one wonder how often less noticeable mistakes happen in the landscaping industry. Don’t think for one second, in other words, that this type of applicator error is an isolated incident.
And if you look closely at the photo, you’ll see smaller errors within the larger blunder. Stripes of green grass are visible throughout the mostly dead field, which means the applicator missed with the Roundup during his or her rush to get the job done on time. This type of thing happens, most assuredly, thousands of times each day across America as the “mow, blow and go” lawn crews hustle to meet their quota of fertilizer and weed-killing applications. Many are rewarded for their speed of application, either with a financial bonus or the opportunity to leave work early.
For those of us who rant against lawn chemical applications, these Michigan fields represent the proverbial poster children in our campaign. It’s catastrophic ignorance that will undoubtedly bring a laugh in the Power Point presentation.
Really, though, the photo is more sickening than funny. Imagine how many gallons of toxic poison were spread on this baseball field where children come to play or watch others. Imagine how many gallons of Roundup their parents still spread in the name of make their personal landscapes beautiful.
Maybe, just maybe, they’ll look at this photo and do more than laugh.