Our research program focuses on three primary areas that are important for turfgrass managers in Minnesota. Each of these areas has ongoing projects as well as completed projects for which results have been published in scientific journals. Most of our research takes place on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota at the TROE Center.
Environmental issues will continue to be a focus of turfgrass management in the coming years. Research in this area will be an important resource for turfgrass managers as they make changes to help increase environmental sustainability in their communities. Current projects are management practices to mitigate the loss of nutrients and pesticides in runoff; acute drought stress tolerance; developing a soil test to predict nitrate leaching potential; and use of alternative turfgrass species in an integrative pest management program.
Production and Management
Research on general turfgrass management and production will start to build a body of literature on the performance of the best varieties and species of turfgrasses for a range of greenspace uses. The data will be useful for homeowners, professional turfgrass managers and architects for designing, establishing and permitting new or reconstruction projects as it will narrow the potential varieties and mixtures to be considered. The results will also provide guidelines for best management practices for various inputs to turfgrass systems. Current projects include: NTEP trials (perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, creeping bentgrass putting greens and creeping bentgrass fairways, and tall fescue); fine fescue putting green; velvet bentgrass as a reduced input turfgrass; overseeding and interseeding as effective tools for species conversion; and no-mow and low-maintenance grass selection and evaluations.
Breeding and Genetics
In the coming years, there may be a need for new species to use in low-input environments. We will be well-positioned to be at the forefront of this process both in Minnesota and across the northern United States. Low-input turfgrass varieties for cold climates will have an impact beyond Minnesota. Current projects include: reducing rust severity in seed production fields; prairie junegrass and tufted hairgrass evaluations; screening for resistance to disease; improved drought tolerance; and tolerance of mowing. Germplasm improvement efforts will continue with perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, prairie junegrass, tall fescue, hard fescue, and tufted hairgrass.