2017 Annual WCTA Research Summary Report

One of the primary mandates of the Western Canada Turfgrass Association, along with many of our allied groups, is to foster turfgrass research for the betterment of the entire sports turf and golf course management industry. 

The scientific process has been a critical component in the evolution of our industry and continues to drive us forward, operating in the background, advancing the field and providing solutions for everyday challenges.  As the industry finds itself increasingly engaged in advocacy efforts, there is great need to detail and quantify all the good things turf does for us.

Since 2010, The WCTA has invested $136,172 into turf research projects.  The highest dollar figure in any one year was $32,762 (2013) with an average of just over $17,000 annually.  The money comes from 10% of all member dues, 30% of any net operating profit at year end, but mostly, from the contributions made by those in the industry and the hard work of many individuals over the years directed at fund-raising initiatives. 

At the time of writing, $22,371 has been raised and we expect to match last year's total of $23,945.  Help us achieve our goal of $25,000 - money raised in 2017 will be put toward 2018 projects. 

Note that many research projects are jointly funded which helps reduce the overall burden to one particular group.  For example, the Canadian Turf Research Foundation (CTRF) collects funds from several provincial groups like the WCTA and distributes it on a national scale.


Current priorities for WCTA turfgrass research funding:

-Nutrient and fertility management, best management practices
-Soil and root-zone management, best management practices
-Evaluation of alternatives to pesticides
-Irrigation and water use issues (water quality and reducing water usage)
-Investigations into the biology, ecology and management of current and emerging pests
-Alternative cultivar and species for new turf construction, integration and conversion into existing turf areas
-Species/cultivar evaluation and improved management practices for areas of heavy traffic and wear tolerance

2017 Turf Research Funding Summary

Based on funds raised in 2016, cash available to the Research Committee for 2017 projects was $10,149.  With this fiscal year's disbursements totalling approximately $20,000 (the difference will come from long-term investments), the following projects were put forward by the Research Committee and approved by the WCTA Board for funding:

Project Title: Canadian Turf Research Foundation Cooperative Funding
The CTRF collects and distributes research monies much like the WCTA but on a national scale.  We have contributed to this collaborative approach to research funding annually since 1992. 
PROJECT LENGTH:    multiple projects / varies
See http://www.turfresearchcanada.ca/current-research for list of current research projects

Project Title: Evaluation of Alternative Management Strategies to Reduce or Eliminate the Use of Fungicides for Control of Microdochium Patch, Oregon State University
More money is spent on fungicides to control Microdochium patch than any other turfgrass disease in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest United States. Turfgrass managers continue to be scrutinized when it comes to pesticide use for the control of problematic turf pests. This project will evaluate cultural practices as well as new alternative products that have shown potential to control Microdochium patch. Each component will be evaluated individually and upon completion of the two year research project be integrated into a complete management program for the control of Microdochium patch with the intent of greatly reducing or eliminating fungicide use.
PROJECT LENGTH:    2 years
WCTA COMMITMENT:   $7500 USD or approx. $10,500 CDN 
*total 2017 commitment from Canada = $15k USD.  OTRF also putting forward $7500 USD

Project Title: Investigating Alternative Irrigation Strategies, Oregon State University
Researchers in arid regions have explored greywater as an alternative irrigation source for turfgrass; however, poor-quality water sources have a tendency to increase soil nutrients (particularly salts) to toxic levels. Fortunately, the cool-humid climatic regions of North America have significant precipitation throughout the year; potentially enough to mitigate nutrient toxicity associated with regular greywater use.  This study includes cultivar assessment of salt-tolerant perennial ryegrasses, irrigated under three levels of greywater applications (continuous, supplemental, and control) throughout multiple years. An additional study is being conducted to determine optimal irrigation scheduling for perennial ryegrass in the Pacific Northwest, in an effort to reduce water consumption.

WCTA COMMITMENT:   $6,000 CDN (partnering with CTRF, $6000 each for a total of $12,000 CDN)

Update on Previous Research - Capital Cost of Natural and Synthetic Sports Fields, University of Guelph
This project is creating a comprehensive cost analysis of constructing and maintaining multitude of types of synthetic fields and compare those costs to the construction and maintenance of different types of natural grass fields. This information will aid in the decision making process when schools and municipalities undertake the construction of new facilities. The cost analysis will include a 30-year cost analysis encompassing construction, maintenance, renovations and disposal of materials.  The project will accomplish this by:

Creating a guide sheet comparing the cost of natural and synthetic fields cost fields over a 30 year cycle
Creation of a working model in which factors could be changed to estimate costs of synthetic and natural fields             

Progress to date
A model for calculating future costs in today’s dollars was completed on schedule by April 2016. Unfortunately we have experienced delays in the current project in populating the costs into the model. A student was not identified in the summer of 2016 and due to a number of instances with our working group progress continued to be delayed. In the summer of 2017 an MBA student was identified and he has worked diligently throughout the summer to attain realistic costing for Western Canada and throughout Canada. The project is progressing and no additional funds will be requested until significant progress is made to develop the costing results into the interactive model for municipalities to alter based on their costs.

This project served as a side project for a student who completed his Masters of Finance, Kristian Adomait. This summer a MBA student with familiarity with turfgrass management Jordan Kitchen has been working at filling in the costing estimates.

The numbers for costing should be available by mid-September 2017. The development of a more interactive model would be dependent on the new communications position being hired by the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. This position has been advertised and interviews will commence soon. Completion of the project April 2018.

Editor's note:  An interim report for this project was received April 2016.  Half of our $15,000 commitment to this 2 year, $22,500 project has been fulfilled, the final disbursment payable upon receipt of the final report.


The WCTA would like to thank and recognize those individuals, groups, companies and institutions who have contributed generously to turf research project funding this year, without whom our Turf Research funding program simply would not exist. 

2017 Silent Auction contributors - $4,451 
Kwantlen University Turf Club contest proceeds - $4,160 
Kwantlen University - $150
Olds College - $150 
Sabrina Bladon - $100
Jeff Hoyem - $100
Kelly Jacobsen - $100
Mark Van Pelt - $100

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who serve on our Research Committee:  

Peter Sorokovsky - City of Burnaby (Chair)
David Davidson - Kwantlen Polytechnic University
David Duncan - THP Co. (WCTA Past President)
David Woodske - BC Ministry of Agriculture
Dr. Brian Holl - Lamorna Enterprises
Ladd Legeyt - Agrium Advanced Technologies (Industry Representative)
Jim Ross - Prairie Turfgrass Research Centre (retired)
Dave Kennedy - Vancouver Golf Club (Northwest Turfgrass Association Representative)

Finally, on behalf of the entire WCTA membership, we'd like to recognize the tireless work of Turfgrass Researchers and Educators who continually drive the turf management industry forward, largely behind the scenes, with their vision, dedication and accomplishments.       

If you wish to contribute to turf research through the WCTA, please contact Committee Chair Peter Sorokovsky at peter.sorokovsky@burnaby.ca 

Please note that the Western Canada Turfgrass Association accepts no responsibility in respect to the opinions and data expressed in the editorial material or outcome of the research projects.  The views do not necessarily represent the views of the Association.