2020 WCTA Turfgrass 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 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.


Microdochium patch pressure at the OSU test plots in Corvallis, Oregon.  Image courtesy Oregon State University.

In the past decade, the WCTA has invested over $190,000 into turf research projects.  Within that period, the highest dollar figure in any one year was $32,762.  Project funding dollars come 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, $21,885 has been raised in 2020!  That's down from $31,240 last year however we are expecting further funds from the KPU Turf Club contest (delayed due to COVID).  We appreciate all the help in achieving our goals!

Money raised in 2020 will be put toward 2021 projects.  Note that many research projects are jointly funded which helps 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.  

2020 Turf Research Funding Summary
Based on funds raised in 2019, cash available to the Research Committee for 2020 projects is $20,671 with disbursements for newly approved projects totalling $20,270.  The following projects were put forward by the Research Committee and approved by the WCTA Board for 2020 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:  Efficacy of Trichoderma Fungal Biocontrol Agents for the Control of Snow Mold Disease in Turfgrass, Michelle Franklin and Deborah Henderson, Institute of Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

The cost of chemical controls for snow mold disease in Western Canada is greater than that for all other diseases of turfgrass.  Demand for alternatives to chemical controls are mounting due to concerns of the environmental impact of chemical pesticide use coupled with cosmetic pesticide bans.  Research has shown that fungal biological control agents such as Trichoderma can suppress the growth of several of the pathogens responsible for snow mold disease. Here we propose to identify the pathogens responsible for snow mold on golf courses in British Columbia using genetic tools and test the efficacy of local Trichoderma isolates in laboratory and field trials for the control of pink snow mold.  Trichoderma isolates that show pathogen suppression in research trials will be considered for registration in Canada as the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture moves forward with their first Trichoderma product registration.   


Project Title: 4th Edition of the "Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases"

The Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases is a valuable resource for many in the turfgrass industry, including turfgrass managers, researchers, diagnosticians, educators, and students. Originally written by R.W. Smiley and published in 1983, the first three editions have sold a total of 48,000 copies. The 3rd edition was published in 2005 and has sold more than 8,500 copies in 50 states and 55 countries.

The 4th edition will include extensive revisions to reflect recent advances in turfgrass pathology, including many new, high-quality images and an expanded focus on diseases of warm-season turfgrasses. Final publication is expected in mid-2021.   

PROJECT LENGTH: to be published in 2020
WCTA COMMITMENT: $3000 USD ($4270 CDN approx.)

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:  $11,257
Transfer from previous year surplus:  $3,647
2019 Silent Auction contributors:  $6,127
Kwantlen University Turf Club contest proceeds:  $3,000 (expected)
Extra member contributions:  $335
Allied and education institution contributions:  $520

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

Peter Sorokovsky - City of Burnaby (Chair)
David Duncan - THP Co. (WCTA Past President)
Ladd Legeyt - Agrium Advanced Technologies (Industry Representative)
Jim Ross - Prairie Turfgrass Research Centre (retired)

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.