Field day highlights turfgrass research, extension programsAug. 3, 2007
Dr. Mike Richardson, Professor of Horticulture
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Dr. Doug Karcher, Associate Professor of Horticulture
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Dr. Aaron Patton, Assistant Professor & Extension Turfgrass Specialist
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By Fred Miller, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Grass is big business in Arkansas, as evidenced by some 115 turf professionals who attended the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Turfgrass Research Field Day Aug. 1
"The production, cultivation and utilization of turfgrass is all or part of many industries in Arkansas and accounts for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for the state’s economy," said Mike Richardson, professor of horticulture.
Arkansas has 55 turf production firms with gross sales of $24 million, according to Arkansas Horticulture Industry: Economic Impact and Characteristic. Turfgrass is also an essential part of the state’s 243 golf courses and 67 irrigation installation and service firms that contribute a combined $248 million to the economy.
The field day featured tours of test plots on the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville, presentations and demonstrations of research in landscape, golf and sports turfgrass management. Topics covered variety trials and selection, weed and pest control, establishing and maintaining lawns and sports surfaces, and related issues.
The field day also included workshops that counted credit toward required pesticide recertification for turf care professionals.
Doug Karcher, associate professor of horticulture, said the research highlighted during the field day is designed to help answer questions about the typical problems faced by Arkansas turf managers.
"We conduct variety trials to see which grasses are best adapted to Arkansas," Karcher said. "If anyone needs to reestablish a lawn, golf course or sports surface, we have data they can use to be sure they select the best variety."
The research program studies the abilities of different varieties to recover golf divots and recuperate from traffic and other uses. Scientists are also developing best management practices for weed control, fertility, irrigation and other needs for grass surfaces.
"Field days give us an opportunity to showcase some of the research and studies we have going on to support the turfgrass industry," said Aaron Patton, extension turfgrass specialist. "We can show turfgrass professionals some of the things we're doing to try and help them do their jobs a little better. It also provides a networking opportunity for professionals."
Patton said about half of the attendees worked in the golf industry or were suppliers to golf courses. The rest worked in lawn care industries or were groundskeepers for universities or other institutions.
Field day visitors included turf professionals from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Tennessee, Mississippi and Oregon.
Seven Division of Agriculture scientists collaborate in turfgrass research and extension programs and have developed one of the finest undergraduate and graduate education programs in the country in Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, said David Hensley, head of the department of horticulture.
In addition to Richardson, Karcher and Patton, the turfgrass team includes Eugene Milus, professor of plant pathology; John Boyd, extension weed specialist; Don Steinkraus, professor of entomology; and James Robbins, extension horticulture specialist.
"The research and extension programs exist to provide science-based support for the ‘green industry,’ and the academic program prepares students for leadership and management roles in the industry," Richardson said.
Research-based information and publications, as well as information about the turfgrass program, are available on a new Web site: http://turf.uark.edu/
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