Fast Facts:

More than 100 from golf, sports turf and lawncare industries

Field day offers opportunity to exchange information

Research geared toward solutions to industry needs

FAYETTEVILLE — “There’s something about being able to walk on grass, to touch it and feel it,” Mike Richardson, Professor of turfgrass science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said. “It’s important to education to have that tactile connection.”

More than 100 turfgrass professionals were able to make that hands-on connection during the 2019 University of Arkansas Turfgrass Field Day on July 24.

Richardson, who also has a teaching appointment in the department of horticulture for the University of Arkansas’ Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, said the field day gives turf professionals an opportunity to see first-hand the research efforts of the turfgrass program.

“Currently, we have basic and applied research projects geared to help every aspect of the turfgrass industry,” Richardson said. “Our research has an impact on golf courses, sports turf, home lawncare and sod industries, as well as other related industries — like equipment and chemical companies — that support them.

“It’s an opportunity to really engage the entire industry in what we’re doing,” he said.

Richardson sees that engagement as a two-way street. The turfgrass program can impart practical information to turfgrass professionals, he said. And in turn, the industry can inform researchers about the problems they face and the answers they’re seeking.

Feedback from the industry can inform future research initiatives and goals, Richardson said.

The field day featured tours divided up for golf, lawncare and sports turf professionals. A sampling of some of the field day topics includes:

Variety trials to determine their adaptation to Arkansas growing conditions and best management practices to grow them

Fungicide programs for bentgrass in Arkansas’ transition zone

Use of wetting agents on golf grasses

Disease diagnostics in lawncare

Water use for cool-season lawn grasses

Spray applicator calibration and demonstration

Plant growth regulators and mowing management

Use of native plants to protect and promote pollinating insects

A tour of Razorback Stadium, where synthetic turf is being replaced by natural grass

Demonstrations also gave participants a first-hand look at new and emerging technologies, including drone applications in turfgrass management, electrically powered equipment and mowers, and autonomous mowers.

“In more than 20 years of research, we’ve built a base of knowledge,” Richardson said. “We can offer turfgrass professionals education and practical information that they can use. And field days often make it easier to do that because they are in our fields and plots, and can see what we’re doing and the results we’re getting.”

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