This is an article I've recommended before, and share again here. It is Purchasing new products and technologies: an ethical and common-sense approach by Dr. Robert Carrow.
Dr. Carrow explains a procedure for golf course superintendents who want to stay on the cutting edge of advancements to make "wise decisions about purchasing new products/technologies." He explains the ethical aspect, the need for information, and the application of common sense.
Regarding ethics of purchasing, he writes:
Specific science-based information is often limited or lacking for many new products/technologies. Substituted for testing and evaluation may be manufacturer claims, testimonials, and psuedoscience (claiming a product can theoretically provide a response while knowing that the magnitude is very small, or providing "selected" data to support a claim while withholding data that proves otherwise).
Why is this an ethical issue? He explains it like this (italics his):
The ethical point is that golf club officials assume that the golf course superintendent is making science-based decisions on new products/technologies when spending their money ... Thus, expending large amounts of club funds for testing a new technology is an ethical issue when the decision is based on "I hope" rather than "I know" and the club bears the total cost if the technology fails to perform.
For information, Carrow gives seven questions that superintendents should ask themselves:
- Is this product needed in my situation?
- Are there better "alternatives"?
- Is the positive response due to the "active ingredient" or to an added material?
- How important is the response?
- Are valid, unbiased "test results" available?
- Should I try this item on a trial area or basis?
- Do the "benefits" justify the costs?
He gives lots of examples too -- read the article to see the types of products he mentions, like humic acid and humate products, acidifying soils or water, the addition of Fe and N to many products, microorganism addition, water treatment devices ...
He says the bottom line is whether the benefits to the golf facility justify the cost. Ask this question to yourself, he suggests, concerning the cost and benefit: "Would I purchase this product or technology with money from my personal bank account if I were the owner?"
Take ethics and information, add in a little common sense, and you'll be on the cutting edge.