USGA requests proposals for the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program

By |  April 24, 2018 0 Comments

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is requesting proposals for the turfgrass and environmental research program. The program aims to impact the long-term viability of golf by funding, directing and disseminating turfgrass and environmental research. The main goals of the program are to:

  • Develop cost-effective turfgrasses and management programs that enhance stress tolerance, conserve water and efficiently use pesticides, fertilizer and energy;
  • Direct and support unbiased research that yields information to help consumers make sound economic and environmental decisions on the purchase and use of products; and
  • Communicate research results for the benefit of golf course and environmental sustainability.

The USGA research proposals are due on July 6, 2018. The proposals should be in the following areas of interest:

Water Conservation
The United States faces challenges on water consumption for outdoor irrigation. It is imperative that golf courses make the most of every gallon of water used for irrigation. Few turfgrass managers have adopted water conservation technology or reduced irrigated turfgrass acreage.

  • Develop deficit irrigation programs, adoption of effluent or marginal quality water, or drought contingency plans where annual rainfall exceeds more than 30 inches per year
  • Encourage golf facility adoption of new irrigation scheduling techniques to conserve water
  • Compare forecasted reference evapotranspiration (FRET) and soil-moisture-sensor irrigation scheduling with traditional methods
  • Reduce irrigated acreage or convert to naturalized, infrequently mowed, non-irrigated grass roughs that use new or alternative species
  • Conduct rainout-shelter irrigation studies that reduce water use by 20 to 30 percent.

Integrated Turfgrass Management
Turfgrasses developed for use on golf courses require management practices that provide quality playing surfaces while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Projects should focus on conserving natural resources by reducing the use of water, pesticides, fertilizers, and energy.

The objectives of these studies include the following:

  • Develop cultural practices that allow efficient turfgrass management under unique conditions, such as deficit irrigation, marginal quality water, drought, poor quality soils and shade;
  • Determine the range of adaptability and stress tolerance of turfgrasses;
  • Evaluate direct and interacting effects of two or three cultural practices, like irrigation, mowing, fertilization, cultivation, compost utilization, and organic matter accumulation (thatch); and
  • Investigate pest management practices such as biological, cultural, and mechanical controls, application of turf management practices utilizing IPM and reduced inputs, and pest modeling and forecasting.

The results of these studies should lead to the development of turfgrass management programs that use natural resources more efficiently and reduce costs, with minimal impairment of playing quality conditions or aesthetic appeal. We encourage regional cooperation among researchers where similar climatic and soil conditions exist.

Physiology, Genetics, and Breeding
The quality and stress tolerance of turf is a product of the environment, management practices and genetic potential of the grass plant. In many cases, major limitations to turf quality are stress effects, many of which can be modified or controlled through plant improvement. Projects will be directed toward the development of turf cultivars that conserve natural resources by requiring less water, pesticide and fertilizer. Research projects that apply new biotechnological methods toward turfgrass improvement will be considered.

Among the characteristics most desirable in the new turfgrasses are:

    • Increased drought tolerance;
    • Reduced requirements for irrigation, mowing, and fertilization;
    • Tolerance to irrigation with non-potable water;
    • Reduced need for pesticides by increasing resistance to disease, insects, nematodes, and weed encroachment;
    • Ability to survive high and low temperature extremes;
    • Increased shade tolerance; and
    • Tolerance of intensive traffic and poor-quality soils.

    Research in the fields of biotechnology, entomology, genetics, microbiology, nematology, pathology, physiology and other sciences that support the project objectives and provide techniques for improving golf turf species will be considered.

    Product Testing
    The goal of product testing is to support and direct independent research designed to provide consumers unbiased information regarding product efficacy. This information will help consumers make financially and environmentally sound product purchasing and use decisions. The program also will provide USGA Green Section agronomists scientific information to support recommendations about products that have limited scientific information about agronomic benefits.

    Product testing projects could include:

    • Improved methods for rapid conversion to newer, resource-efficient turfgrass cultivars;
    • Organic vs. conventional agronomic products for turfgrass nutrition;
    • Alternatives to pesticides for disease or insect problems;
    • Biostimulants;
    • New technology with limited information on turfgrass applications;
    • Recycled materials; and
    • Soil amendments.

    Product testing projects should be performed over two years for a maximum of $10,000 per year with no overhead or indirect costs included. The number of products tested, the turfgrass performance characteristics measured, and amount of research information collected will be used to determine if the full funding amount is awarded.

    To submit a research proposal, or for more information on submitting a proposal, contact Cole Thompson, assistant director, Green Section Research, at cthompson@usga.org.

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