Turfgrass field day draws golf, lawn and sports field pros

Aug. 2, 2012
Contact Information:

Doug Karcher, Associate Professor of Horticulture, 479-575-5723 / karcher@uark.edu

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roberto ruggeri

DROUGHT STRESS -- Roberto Ruggeri, a visiting scientist from Italy, shows a drought stress study under a shelter that excludes rain but allows sunlight and air flow on test plots. He spoke at the annual Turfgrass Field Day Wednesday at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's research and extension center in Fayetteville.
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Professional managers of athletic fields, golf courses and lawns saw the latest equipment, products, technology and research at the annual University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Turfgrass Field Day Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Pat Berger, U of A athletic facilities coordinator, led a tour of new football practice facilities. They include a new field with the 'Patriot' bermudagrass variety and a synthetic field atop a parking structure. The tour included a variety of other fields and discussion of their maintenance challenges.

Mark Brown, Pulaski County agent with the Division of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension Service, discussed efforts to educate homeowners about lawn watering efficiency and conservation. In a survey of 39 homeowners with irrigation systems, Brown found much room for improvement.

Some keys to watering efficiently, Brown said, are fully understanding irrigation system controls, frequency and timing (avoid afternoon), a rain sensor shut off, proper equipment maintenance, and cultural practices that reduce the amount of water needed by grass and landscape plants.

Horticulture graduate student Luke Laird discussed his on-going study of a new sensor-based irrigation system that applies water only when the plants need it rather than on a schedule.

Lee Miller, a University of Missouri turfgrass pathology professor, discussed proper fertilization and watering practices to avoid fungal diseases in tall fescue. In fescue and other cool season grasses, nitrogen should not be applied from May through August, he said. Night watering also promotes fungal growth, he said.

Roberto Ruggeri, a visiting scientist from Italy, showed cool season grass variety trials to determine which are most drought tolerant for use in lawns, golf courses and athletic fields. He said tall fescue varieties that withstood drought stress better than others were Rebel Exeda, Virtue II and Coronado TDH. Several experimental lines also performed well.

Don Edgar, assistant professor of agricultural and extension education, presented results of a study showing that biodiesel fuel caused less damage when spilled on turf than petroleum diesel.

Horticulture associate professor Doug Karcher reported on an ongoing study of wetting agents, which have been found to improve water use efficiency on putting greens. The study is to determine if some wetting agents cause excessive root zone moisture. Preliminary results showed no excessive root zone moisture from wetting agent treatments.