Stuck in the Mud with...

Stuck in the Mud with...

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Darren Greatbatch, BASIS, MBPR, CSJK & IOSH has recently been promoted to Specialist Advisory Manager (Amenity & Invasive Weeds). We caught up with him to discuss life at Japanese Knotweed Ltd, his new job role and what he thinks is the Invasive Weed to look out for.

What is a “Specialist Advisory Manager” at Japanese Knotweed Ltd?

I would like to say “I’m the go to person” for anything to do with Invasive Species or herbicides. My role is to advise, consult and implement on treatment programs for Invasive Species.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Rewarding, fulfilling and exciting

You have quite a few industry accreditations and qualifications. What do they all mean and how do they help you in your role?

BASIS MBPRI am immensely proud of my qualifications and accreditations; I hope this shows a high level of professionalism in my daily role and that I can convey my knowledge. My BASIS qualifications allow me to advise on herbicide usage and on the herbicides we currently use and advise clients on effective weed control programs which are both sustainable and follow industry best practice guidelines and indulge in my passion for agronomy. My CSJK is my latest qualification which means I am a Certificated Surveyor in Japanese Knotweed. This again is a mark of trust and a high level of professional aptitude within the field of Japanese knotweed remediation. My IOSH certification is that level of Health and Safety which is now a fundamental part of our working lives and give me the confidence to act and implement Health and Safety protocols. This, coupled with my Black Managers CSCS Pesticides Manager card is a level of professionalism which I strive to deliver on a daily basis.

How long have you been in the Amenity and in the Invasive Weed industry?

25 years. Wow! Time flies; I had a full head of hair when I started my journey.

What led you to this career?

My early career was in Agriculture. I was interested in weed control and agronomy and this seemed a natural step. However, I spent fifteen years travelling the length and breadth of the UK treating Amenity weeds on footpaths and highways on a quad bike.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My role is varied; one day I may be consulting with large organisations on Invasive Species and their impacts, to surveying onsite for Japanese knotweed and other invasives. I may be running an in-house training session and advising on herbicide usage throughout the company. I also meet a wonderful array of people at events and hold information briefings with clients, or I may be building successful client relationships or consulting on Amenity Weed Control or integrated weed management. No single day is the same, which makes the role exciting and rewarding.

What are you currently working on?

Currently several large projects for Amenity and Invasive weeds for two large organisations. I am also compiling training and knowledge-based slideshows for our technicians and surveyors; plus building successful partnerships, alongside the fantastic team I work with.

What is your favourite invasive weed to discover and why?

Variegated Yellow ArchangelThat’s a tough one. I don’t have a favourite as such but what I really enjoy is a site survey with many different invasive species on one single site, such as Himalayan balsam, Variegated yellow archangel, Floating pennywort, Crassula helmsii. This poses a challenge for the remediation of each species and the complexities of dealing with each of them.

Out of all the weeds that are not listed within the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, which one do you think should be added and why?

Invasive BambooBamboo, especially the running varieties. Their impact on the wider environment due to e.g. fly tipping and the depositing of unwanted garden waste. This will have an even greater impact on our Amenity environment and wider natural environment if left unchecked. The sale of bamboo should be restricted or guidance given for planting, especially within residential gardens.

Bamboo ignores boundaries; I often see the results of bamboo within gardens and the impacts this has on Amenity space and structural damage to paving caused by the spread. Bamboo will out-compete other vegetation taking valuable light and nutrition, not to mention popping up in your manicured lawn. I still blame the Ground Force team (the program in the 1980’s early 90’s) for the upsurge in bamboo encroachment across the UK. Every other week Alan and Charlie would be planting the damn stuff.

What is on your wish list for the next five years at Japanese Knotweed Ltd?

To continue our great success as a company and to build upon our team and increase our knowledge and portfolio. For me personally, I want to see Japanese Knotweed Limited as the number one company for all invasive species remediation.

What’s one thing that surprised you about working at Japanese Knotweed Ltd?

Surprise GiftsThe amazing staff and their enormous knowledge base and for quite a large company, the feeling you are part of a family. Oh and the surprise gifts and Christmas hampers.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

Constant changes in legislation and losing valuable PPP’s.

What do you like most about your job?

Meeting Clients, advising on pesticide use, inhouse and client training.

What’s your “go-to” productivity tip?

Be methodical in your approach to a task.

What’s been your favourite project at Japanese Knotweed Ltd?

The writing of training manuals and guides for all the INNS (Invasive Non-Native Species) and then imparting that knowledge, this is so rewarding for me personally and the feedback has been great.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Weekend WarriorI'm a keen road cyclist. I race and ride for leisure; on a on a regular weekend I'll clock up two to three hundred miles. In cycling circles, I am what is known as a “Weekend Warrior”.

Can you share a random fact about yourself?

I went to school with a former team GB Olympic gold medallist and now TV pundit.

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