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UCR Turfgrass Field Day to focus on water conservation, disease management, & natural turf

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Turfgrass plays an important role in the landscape and has a direct and significant impact on California's economy. Aesthetically pleasing and present in everyday life, turfgrass provides a safer, cushioned surface for sports and recreational activities and is known to increase home values.

But as drought conditions remain severe in California and water conservation efforts in the state become increasingly critical, reduction or even complete elimination of turf from the landscape is oftentimes a first recommendation.

How water can be saved with proper irrigation of lawns and landscapes, and how drought-tolerant hybrid turfgrasses, being developed at UC Riverside, could come to California's rescue will be discussed at the UCR Turfgrass and Landscape Research Field Day to be held Sept. 17 from 8 a.m. to noon at the UCR Turfgrass Research Facility, 1060 Martin Luther King Blvd., Riverside, Calif. Parking will be available in Parking Lot 30, from where the Turfgrass Research Facility in Agricultural Operations is a short walk.

The annual research field tour aims to communicate research results and observations of ongoing, or recently completed, turfgrass research projects at UCR. Attendees will learn about measuring water use efficiency and carbon sequestering abilities of all major warm- and cool-season turfgrasses grown in California. Researchers also will discuss how effective the use of groundcovers as a means of conserving water in the landscape is and what are some of the best ways to manage turfgrass diseases, pests and weeds.

"Compared to artificial turf, natural turf is significantly cheaper to install and maintain," said UCR's James Baird, a turfgrass extension specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, who is leading the Field Day. "Artificial turf produces surface temperatures during the summer of 150 F or more, and is potentially prone to result in more sports injuries and health concerns. This is not to say that we should not have artificial turf. If you have a field that receives continuous play, use and traffic, it may be the only answer. But in a place like California, the surface temperature issue is very important."

Baird explained that natural turf reduces surface temperature by transpirational cooling. It also lessons glare, noise, soil erosion, and dust, thereby reducing air pollution and allergens.

"Moreover, turfgrass sequesters approximately two or three times the amount of carbon from the atmosphere compared to agricultural crops," he said. "On an average managed lawn, turfgrass captures four times the carbon from the air than the carbon output of a typical lawn mower."

Field Day attendees include professional turfgrass managers and their supervisors from golf courses, athletic fields, parks, and lawn care companies. The event is open also to homeowners and other members of the public. Cost of attendance, waived for members of the media, is $65.

"Professional turf and landscape managers and the general public will find that Field Day is an excellent opportunity to learn about the breadth of turfgrass research activities underway at UCR," Baird said. "We are tackling the major challenges of diminishing water resources and increasing pest issues from every conceivable angle."


Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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