WCTA 2018 Turfgrass Research Update

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 to everyday challenges.  As the industry finds itself increasingly engaged in advocacy efforts, there is great need to detail and quantify all the good things that turf does for us.

Grad Student Corey Flude preparing putting green plugs for his winter hardiness study of creeping bentgrass and Poa annua (research supervised by Dr. Eric Lyons) - special interest in the effect of PGR's on winter hardiness of putting greens.  Image courtesy Guelph Turfgrass Institute

Since 1996, The WCTA has invested $652,976 into turf research projects.  The highest dollar figure in any one year was $53,230 (2002) with an average of $17,184 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, $29,018 has been raised, a significant improvement over last year’s total of $23,418 and thank you for helping us blow by our goal of raising $25,000!  Money raised in 2018 will be put toward 2019 projects.  

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

Current priorities for WCTA turfgrass research funding:

A systems approach to sustainable turfgrass management.
Turf management best practices. 
Effects of climate change on turfgrass and pests. 
Improved turfgrass species and varieties.
Societal benefits of turfgrass.  
Economic impact of turf management decisions. 
New instrumentation, robotics and software technologies.
Basic research (economics, environment, playability) of synthetic turf & comparison to natural turf. 
Development and evaluation of effective alternatives to conventional pesticides. 
Nutrient management and nutrient sources. 
Water conservation and water quality.
Emerging Pests – Improved diagnostics for new pests and turf diseases in northern climates.  
Wear tolerance, management and recovery.  

2018 Turf Research Funding Summary

Based on funds raised in 2017, cash available to the Research Committee for 2018 projects was $13,795.  With disbursements totalling approximately $19,000 (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 2018 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:  Environmental Turfgrass Outreach Project, Guelph Turfgrass Institute
The turfgrass industry is aware of the benefits of turfgrass and its necessity in our communities, but the same cannot be said about public stakeholder groups.  To educate public stakeholders and the various end users of turfgrass facilities, a targeted outreach program needs to be implemented.  This project will include the creation of education programming and outreach initiatives to public stakeholders including golfers, recreational athletes, school board faculty, students, homeowners and the general public.  It will also involve the creation of materials for all turfgrass sectors to distribute to their clients which will foster improved communications and understanding between the turfgrass industry and public stakeholders.

WCTA COMMITMENT: $15,000 in year 1

Previously funded projects in progress:

Project Title:  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             

WCTA COMMITMENT: $15,000 total, $7,500 outstanding


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. 

Portion of member dues:  $11,204
Transfer from previous year surplus:  $6,886
2018 Silent Auction contributors:  $6,418
Kwantlen University Turf Club contest proceeds:  $3,045
Extra member contributions:  $715
Allied and education institution contributions:  $750

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 - 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.