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Turf Research Projects

The public desires turfgrass that is well maintained with less chemical inputs, however, these expectations are difficult to reliably meet without a better understanding of the complex interactions between plants and the microbial community. The microbial communities that encompass the turfgrass system are vast and diverse. They include studying interactions between the pathogenic and beneficial microbes that reside on the surface of turfgrass, rhizosphere, rhizoplane, and root interim microbiome. These areas can be further investigated due to the recent technological advances/tools and can facilitate the development of environmentally sustainable management practices and inputs.

The Turf Pathology and Breeding Laboratory at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a three-year research grant (2013-2016) from the United States Golf Association Green Section. The proposed study will compare the soil microbial communities and soil compositions between an organically and a conventionally managed golf course on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts using Next Generation Sequencing techniques.

Few athletic field studies have been conducted to relate actual field conditions as well as maintenance practices to reported injuries.  The aim of this study was to determine the level of use that an athletic field will sustain before field conditions begin to affect the playability and safety of the field.

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One of the key missions of the UMass Extension Turf Program is to promote natural resource protection through responsible turf management. The following featured videos profile current UMass research for which the primary focus is the conservation and protection of one of our most precious natural resources: water.

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Best Management Practices are commonly implemented on golf courses to minimize the movement of pesticides and nutrients. One such practice is the use of vegetative filter strips (VFS) to intercept runoff and help protect the quality of groundwater and adjacent surface water. Research at UMass is ongoing to identify the best-suited plant material and most appropriate planting techniques to ensure effective vegetative filter strips.

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Lawn and recreational turf can require significant amounts of irrigation to maintain turf function and use. Practices that lower water requirements are especially important as water restrictions and demand for water increase. Scheduling irrigation according to actual turfgrass water use rates (ET) reduces waste by replacing only the amount of water lost from the rootzone to turfgrass use. Reference ET values obtained from weather stations must be adjusted using crop coefficients (Kc values) to achieve a more accurate estimate of actual turf ET. This research seeks to address the current lack of ET data and Kc values specific for climatic conditions and management of recreational turf typical of New England.