Monday, March 26, 2012

Turf Research: It Impacts all of Us

Annual Bluegrass plot at the Daniel Center
 established from aerification cores donated
by Elcona CC
You may not be aware of this, but did you know that you, as members of Elcona CC, play a vital role in promoting turfgrass research?  It's true.  Every year, each one of you is billed for the annual donation to Evan's Scholars and the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation (Purdue University) and every year I have the privilege of presenting your check to the MRTF at our annual Green Expo that is held in Indianapolis at the Convention Center. Needless to say, this gives me a tremendous sense of pride, not just for my industry, but for Elcona as well.

Now, more than ever, your donation has become critical. Even with funding for turf research decreasing by an estimated 20-40% across the country and federal grants disappearing almost completely, the donations from Elcona CC have remained strong. Since 2006, you have donated $40,000 to various projects that have been conducted at the Daniel Turf Research Center at Purdue as well as at Elcona.  In the last 2 years alone, Elcona has been a research site for several  projects (click photos below) and has also made non-monetary contributions as well.  Two years ago, a large dump truck load of aerification cores from our greens was taken from Elcona to the Daniel Center at Purdue to establish research plots that consist primarily of Annual Bluegrass (click photo above).

Testing herbicides for pre and post
 emergent control of goosegrass on
Elcona's Practice Tee (2010, 2011)

Research to determine timing for Summer Patch
applications on one of Elcona's green
nurseries (2011)
Scouting for White Grubs to establish models
for determining if preventive treatments are
 necessary (2010, 2011) Holes #12,13

One of my favorite studies that we have been a part of the last two years was focused around topdressing sand that is applied to greens and how much and what particle sizes are picked-up after application during regular mowing practices.  This study was not associated with Purdue, but was done with Mavis Consulting Ltd who completes and analyzes our soil tests each year. The fascinating results of this study can be found here

Separating clippings from sand for topdressing sand study
performed at Elcona for Mavis Consulting Ltd. (2010, 2011)

Because of the increased scrutiny of turf regarding its use of fertilizer, water and occasional need for pesticides and the perceived negative impact on the environment, we must plan for a future of significant restrictions if not elimination of some of the tools we currently rely on. It is entirely possible that water restriction will eventually be mandatory across the country and that the use of pesticides could be eliminated all together in certain parts of the country. Without research, we lose the ability to prepare for these scenarios and lose a valuable opportunity to develop new turfgrasses that require fewer inputs leading to a better environment.  For an easy-to-read explanation of the benefits of turf and turf research, please click here.

Another link that can give far more information regarding the state of research in the turf industry can be found here on the website.

Satellite view of the Daniel Research Center
at Purdue University
Please take a minute to click on the photo above showing a portion of the 25 acre Daniel Research Center at Purdue University. While I don't expect you to understand what is being done on each plot, you can at least get an idea of how extensive turf research really is and the size and scope of some of the ongoing projects.

The takeaway message is that turf research is and always will be vital to the turf industry and the environment.  Government at both the federal and state levels needs to be aware of the importance of research and the private sector needs to continue making research a priority.  For the members at Elcona Country Club, thank you for your part in this equation. It does not go unnoticed.

For any of my peers that regularly visit this blog, if you are interested in starting a program similar to the one that is established here at Elcona CC, please feel free to contact me and I will get you all of the details you need to start a program at your facility.

Special thanks to Dr. Cale Bigelow and Dr. Frank Wong for their willingness to discuss this topic and for providing me with valuable insight. Many thanks also to, the Purdue Turf Program, and the MRTF for serving as a tremendous resource for information in our industry.

No comments:

Post a Comment