Every two years, a Turf Research Field Day is hosted by the UMass Turf Program at the UMass Joseph Troll Turf Research Facility in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. This year’s program, held on July 15, featured discussions and demonstrations of ten ongoing research projects. Over 200 municipal turf managers, lawn care professionals, school field superintendents and others from the “green industry” spent the day under the shadow of Mount Sugarloaf learning about new research developments.
A variety of presentations were made by UMass Amherst faculty members. Subjects ranged from tests on varieties of turfgrass, to measuring water usage, turf nutrition, wear of sports on turf, biological control of insects and weeds and low-temperature disease control. Researcher Leslie (Mickey) Spokas, of UMass’ Stockbridge School of Agriculture, discussed her preparation of a research plot to study artificial wetlands for preservation of water quality from managed turf settings. Professor Geunhwa Jung demonstrated chemical and cultural practices for turf disease management while Elisha Allen demonstrated organic and low-input turf practices. Extension Educator Randall Prostak set up a small area to demonstrate in-field weed identification.
Mary Owen, extension educator and team leader for the turf program, recognized as one of the most well- respected turf extension specialists in the country, was quoted in the July 2015 issue of Sports Turf Magazine, saying that the explosion of technological innovations has been an important change in the management of sports turf. “Research specifically targeting sports turf has burgeoned. A lot of very sharp minds at universities and elsewhere across the country are tackling difficult problems, finding solutions that can be used from small town school departments to international level professional sports.” You can read the full article on the UMass Extension Turf Program’s website.
A special tribute was offered to retired UMass Amherst professor Joseph Troll, who passed away at the age of 95 just a few weeks prior to this event. The rich legacy and foundation for success fostered by Professor Troll was lifted up in words, print and through a special turf “Thanks, Joe” cut into the turf farm lawn.
The 20-acre research facility conducts ongoing seasonal turf experiments and is maintained by the University’s Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The UMass Turf Program is a collaboration between UMass Extension and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Researchers who utilize the South Deerfield facility include UMass Amherst faculty and staff members Pat Vittum, Michelle DaCosta, Scott Ebdon, Geunhwa Jung, Prasanta Bhowmik, Mickey Spokas, Rob Wick and Randall Prostak, all of whom have all published research findings in national turf publications.