Any time you walk through a park, play a recreation-league soccer game or enjoy an afternoon on the golf course, you are using the products of the multibillion-dollar turfgrass industry. In Georgia alone, turfgrass covers 1.8 million acres, making it one of the largest agricultural commodities in the state, employing more than 100,000 people with a maintenance value of $1.56 billion.
Despite its economic importance, turfgrass researchers often face a lack of research infrastructure and facilities to conduct Extension and educational activities. That is no longer the case at the University of Georgia Griffin campus, where industry-funded partnerships have led to the installation of a research golf green and a research and Extension soccer field.
Together, Bayer Environmental Science, Green Tee Golf Inc., Sports Turf Company, NG Turf and Pike Creek Turf provided financial support for the facilities, which came at a fortuitous time, said Alfredo Martinez-Espinoza, a professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Department of Plant Pathology.
“The need was being sensed by the industries for new and updated equipment and infrastructure,” said Martinez-Espinoza, UGA Cooperative Extension plant pathologist. “With the high quality of work UGA turfgrass faculty have done with them over the years, the companies viewed UGA-Griffin as a prime partner for these projects.”