Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Bayer Boosts Bid to $66 Billion to Acquire Monsanto
Bayer, German-based health and agricultural company, reached a deal to acquire seed and pesticide firm Monsanto for $66 billion on September 14. According to Reuters, it is the largest all-cash deal on record. Bayer agreed to pay $128 per share in cash for St. Louis-based Monsanto after months of acquisition talks leading to this third and final bid offer. The transaction also includes a $2-billion break-up fee that Bayer will pay to Monsanto should it fail to get regulatory clearance. The companies expect the deal to close by the end of 2017, reports USA Today.

SCG Partners Acquires More Florida Landscape Companies
SCG Partners, based in Cleveland, Ohio, recently acquired the assets of two commercial landscape maintenance companies in Florida. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed. These two transactions mark the fifth and sixth acquisitions for SCG Partners in the last 12 months. Last October, SCG Partners announced that it acquired three landscape maintenance companies in Melbourne, Florida. SCG Partners plans to make additional add-on acquisitions to deepen local market penetration as well as expand geographic coverage, according to a news release from the company.

Bad Boy Mowers Sues Spartan Mowers
Bad Boy Mowers, headquartered in Batesville, Arkansas, filed a lawsuit against Spartan Mowers LLC, also based in Batesville, alleging that it’s infringing on a Bad Boy patent for lawnmowers, reports arkansasbusiness.com. The founder of Spartan Mowers is Robert Foster, who until November 2013 was a shareholder of Bad Boy. It was Foster who invented and received the patent for the “Independent Four Wheel Vibration Damping System for Riding Mowers,” according to Bad Boy’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Batesville. Bad Boy’s suit accuses Spartan, which was incorporated in November 2015, of “making, using, selling, and/or offering for sale mowers that infringe” on the patent.

Southern California Cities, Schools Switching to Electric Landscape Equipment
Cal State Los Angeles recently equipped its grounds crews to all-electric equipment. The university —  a few miles from downtown Los Angeles — may be the first in the state to swap gasoline-powered lawn mowers, edgers, weed-whackers and chain saws with zero-emission, battery-powered ones, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

STIHL Sponsors National Championship Air Races
STIHL has signed on as the presenting sponsor for the National Championship Air Races for 2016 and 2017. Rogers Phelps, Corporate Communications Manager of STIHL said:  “We were first introduced to the National Championship Air Races by our employee Andrew Findlay who races in the experimental class. We were so impressed with the event, and the popularity that the pilot NBC Sports program enjoyed, that it was an obvious choice for us to grow our support.  We are proud to be a part of bringing this unique and exciting event to fans around the world.”

Phyllom and Vestaron Extend Bio Research Collaboration
Phyllom BioProducts Corp.
, based in Oakland, California, said it is extending its research collaboration with Vestaron Corp., headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The global need for novel insect control solutions has grown more acute as traditional chemistries face ever increasing insect resistance and regulatory scrutiny, reports Phyllom. The companies expect that biopesticides derived from the collaboration will demonstrate performance advantages such as improved crop/plant/animal health and the control of difficult and resistant pests or disease vectors.

South Portland Passes Revised Pesticide Ban
City council members, by a 6-1 vote Sept. 7, passed an ordinance to prohibit the use of certain lawn-and-garden pesticides within the city of South Portland, Maine, home to about 25,000 people. The ban will be implemented in stages, starting with municipal property starting May 1, 2017, residential properties starting May 1, 2018 and golf courses in 2019. The ordinance originally called for escalating fines but lawmakers revised the ordinance, promising to stress consumer education rather than punitive fines. The city is counting on a seven-member Pest Management Advisory Committee to begin developing an outreach and education plan, reports the Portland Press Herald. The ordinance prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides other than products allowed by the Organic Materials Review Institute or exempt from regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Synthetic pesticides will still be allowed for us on commercial agriculture and playing surfaces at golf courses. The law also allows waivers for public health, safety and environmental threats, such as mosquitoes, poison ivy and tree-damaging insects.

USCIS Advises H-2B Employers to Continue Identifying ‘Returning Workers’
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) urges prospective H-2B employers seeking to hire potential “returning workers” with employment start dates in fiscal year (FY) 2017 to continue to identify these workers and provide the H-2B Returning Worker Certification. The H-2B returning worker provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-113) are set to expire Sept. 30, the last day of FY 2016, and Congress may or may not reauthorize them. These current provisions exempt eligible returning workers from the FY 2016 cap if they were counted toward the H-2B limit during fiscal years 2013, 2014 or 2015.

Davey Named 13th Largest Employee-Owned Company
According to data from the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), the Davey Tree Expert Company is the 13th largest employee-owned company in the U.S. Davey employs over 8,600 people and has been employee-owned since 1979 when employees successfully bought the company from the family of its founder, John Davey.

Heaviland Landscape Management Wins Two CLCA Awards
Heaviland Landscape Management won two awards at the 2016 California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) San Diego Chapter Beautification Awards. The awards recognize excellence among California licensed landscape professionals, specifically those working to conserve natural resources. Heaviland was awarded WaterSmart Landscape Construction – Small (Fairbanks Montecito HOA Landscape Renovation) and achievement award for Turf Conversion – Large (Palomar Tech Center landscape renovation).

Mean Green Mowers Deepens Commitment to Sustainability
Mean Green Mowers has become a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, an association of colleges and universities working to create a sustainable world. Mean Green Mowers will be attending the 2016 AASHE Conference and Expo October 9-12 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Majority of OPE Dealers to Sell Propane Equipment in 3 Years
Within three years, more than half of outdoor power equipment dealers will be offering commercial propane mowers to their landscape contractor customers, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council. When dealers were asked if they expected to offer propane models within the next three years, that figure increased to 60 percent. The survey was created to take stock of outdoor power equipment dealers’ perceptions, awareness, and understanding of commercial propane mowers. More than 100 dealers completed the phone survey in April.

PBI-Gordon Announces 2017 Early Order Program
PBI-Gordon Corporation has announced the 2017 Early Order Program, which gives turf professionals an opportunity to earn a rebate when preparing for next season with PBI-Gordon products. Through the Early Order Program, participants  must purchase a minimum $1,500 of PBI-Gordon qualifying products from a  distributor between October 1, 2016, and January 15, 2017.

GreenMark Announces Upcoming Webinar Series
Focusing on snow and ice management, a two-part webinar series from GreenMark Consulting Group will take place this September with online registration. On September 21 from 2-3 p.m., “Finding the Business & Financial Balance for Snow Business Success” will help with management and strategies. The second webinar will be September 28 from 2-3 p.m., “Building A Strong Management Mindset for Snow Operations Success” about implementing best practices and team success strategies.