Let’s Talk New England Turf Research

August 27, 2019 11:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation has been funding research now more than 20 years with more than $2.5 Million in funds spent as of 2019.  Currently, the foundation has 8 projects being funded for 2019 that amount to $135,131.00.  Since the start of this initiative, 86 projects have been funded by the foundation.  Some are multi-year projects, and some are just for a one-year duration.  Even though we are extremely proud of these numbers, it is by no means all the research that is ongoing at local universities.  By making your way to a university field day, you will gain a greater understanding of the whole picture and what our New England schools mean to our industry.  Here are some quick explanations of what is being funded by the foundation and researched during the growing season of 2019.

1.    Solvita™ Soil Test Kits to Categorize Golf Course Fairway Responsiveness to N Fertilization.  Dr. Karl Guillard of UConn has been working on this subject for the last 3 years and will soon be completed.  This funding is partial funding of a larger project of the same name with the USGA focusing on fairway turf which is the largest part of a golf course’s fertilization program.  Using this method of testing could assist superintendents to adjust N-fertilization amounts depending on the response expected which can have positive benefits on their budgets and the environment.

2.    Evaluation of Fairway Rolling Frequency, Rolling Start Time, and Thatch Accumulation for Control of Dollar Spot.  Dr. Geunhwa Jung of UMass had conducted research to exam the potential of rolling for Dollar Spot control which resulted in a 40-60% reduction.  This project is an expansion of that original research using rolling techniques to benefit Dollar Spot control efforts.  This research will further evaluate rolling frequency, determine a seasonal start time and investigate the influence that rolling may have on thatch accumulation due to a compression effect.   With all the money spent controlling Dollar Spot each year, looking outside the box and identifying steps that show reductions is a welcomed sight.  This project is going beyond 2019 and data collection will be completed in the fall of 2020.

3.    SDHI Resistance in Dollar Spot, Development of Management Strategies and Detection Testing.  Dr. Jung had confirmed SDHI resistance of Dollar Spot in New England in 2017.  This project will determine the extent of cross-resistance of SDHIs, determine practical recommendations to combat resistance, monitor changes in resistance and then to develop a diagnostic test to determine resistance type.  The SDHI fungicide class is the largest class of fungicides on the market.  Six of eight active ingredients are labeled for dollar spot, understanding the fate of an application and the potential resistance would be critical to a superintendent.

4.    The Effect of Turfgrass Seed Mixtures, Seeding Rate and Mowing Timing on Weed Productions in Establishing Pesticide-Free Athletic Fields and Lawn Areas, Dr. Jason Henderson and Ms. Vickie Wallace of UConn are nearing the end of this 2-year project.  Due to the growing number of restrictions on athletic fields associated with youth sports, this project addresses the topics within establishment to reduce weeds on pesticide free athletic fields and home lawns.  Determining factors like seed mixtures, seeding rates and mower timing all could affect an acceptable outcome and better conditions for youth to play on.   

5.    Evaluation of Wildflowers and Trap Nests to Increase Forage and Habitat for Bee’s around New England Golf Courses.  Dr. Steve Alm, URI recently submitted this project for three years.  The long-term objective is to recruit golf courses into helping local bee populations recover from the recent declines in populations by creating available pollinator habitats, shelters and minimizing the negative effects of pesticides.  Golf courses and especially those that have out of play areas will be encouraged to establish bee forage plantings, install trap nests to help bees establish colonies on the property, and evaluate insecticide choices to minimize adverse effects on populations.  One of the outcomes Steve hopes to make available will be a seminar introducing beekeeping to golf courses.  

6.    Earthworm Species, Seasonal Phenology and Effect of Wetting Agents on Earthworm Castings and Abundance on New England Golf Courses.  Dr. Olga Kostromystka, newly appointed professor at UMass submitted this project for funding for two years.  Most superintendents recognize the goodness to the soil ecosystem and the nuisance to the playing surfaces of earthworm populations.  More knowledge is needed to understand the habits of earthworms and the use of registered products with possible benefits that can help prevent worm castings on the surface.  Wetting agents have shown some promise but more information is needed.

7.    Exploring Methods to Enhance Biocontrol of Turfgrass Diseases.  Dr. John Inguagiato of UConn submitted this proposal in 2019 for two years.  The idea of expanding biocontrol management of turfgrass diseases would greatly benefit places such as schools where they have band the use of pesticides.  Sports turf also uses loads of Perennial Ryegrass which is susceptible to Gray Leaf Spot.  It would be an objective to identify a product that could be used in this capacity and be permissible on restricted space.  John is also communicating with Dr. Joseph Roberts at the University of Maryland.

8.    Comparing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil Microbial Populations from Turfgrass Fertilized with Slow-release Synthetic Fertilizer or an Organic Fertilizer.  Dr. Karl Guillard, UConn, submitted this two-year study in 2019.  There is much speculation and differences of opinion of benefits of organic versus slow release synthetic fertilizers to the environment.  Questions concerning soil microbe populations and the status of greenhouse gas emissions will be measured to clear up this speculation.  

These eight ongoing projects as well as the final chapter’s preparation of the BMP project, which are expected to be finished this summer, may increase the total funding for 2019 to $165,131.00.  If you have any questions about any of the research being presently done, please feel free to communicate with these researchers. 

There is much going on, and we compliment everyone involved for their hard work and dedication. 
Thank you,
Gary J. Sykes, Executive Director  

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