ATRF Update - April 2023

By Jason Pick,

With the onset of spring, our Alberta Turfgrass Research Foundation concludes its 2022/2023 fiscal year on March 31. Timely with our new growing season, members received their annual voluntary renewal invoices April 1st. Thank you to all our contributors, we aspire to show return on your investment.

At year end, your foundation finished our year within $600 of its annual forecast, meeting all contractual and operational objectives, delivering over 20 hrs of CEU and industry education, and investing 19K into applied Turfgrass Research..

Research Update:

The ATRF’s non profit model aspires to invest up to $20K/yr into research projects, with mandated 2-3 projects performed or partnered in per year. In 2022/23, your Board of Directors invested $4K to the Canadian Turfgrass Research Foundation, which provides ATRF member access to a second database of nationally sponsored projects. The most recent, “Enhancing turfgrass Carbon sequestration” from Oregon State, and “Understanding and Predicting Pesticide Use” by G.Gregoire Ph.D of Laval, coupled with our own database of 100+ research studies. The ATRF invested another $15K in partnership with Sportsturf Canada, to produce the next edition of the Sportsturf Construction Manual. With intent on making the manual more accessible and available to industry, this project is expected to continue through 2023.

The ATRF saw a significant jump in service contracts in 2022/2023. The ATRF provides an important facility for distributors and suppliers to access and evaluate new formulations and products and new product registrations. Among contracts with Sharda and Syngenta, Brett Young also invested in our services to evaluate PoaCure, which needs little introduction. We are excited to continue part II of that 2yr study, a joint project with University of Guelph, which we hope will soon introduce Poa cure to the Canadian turfgrass market.

A large muti-year project agreement, has paired the Alberta Sod Growers Commodity Group, with the City of Calgary. The Center will evaluate drought avoidance of previously prescribed YardSmart drought tolerant perennial species and eight sod submissions from growers around the province. This multi-year project will uncover a feasibility plan for commercial and residential landscaping, which will not only give architects some applied scientific data to quote the most appropriate plans, but provide our sod growers an opportunity to quantify the value of various sod types to ground covers and drought tolerant plants.

The ATRF were also approached by A-List sustainable turf mid summer, to form a multi-year turf evaluation program. Joined with cooperators such as Purdue, NC State, Rutgers, Utah and Michigan State, we are looking forward to 2023 as our establishment year.

Diagnostic Lab:
Each year the ATRF accepts disease diagnostic samples from right across the country. In comparison to 2021 where fires throughout the west and hot temperatures produced more pythium spp. than we’d prefer to see, in 2022 we saw significant rainfall (11” in July) and cooler temperatures with dramatically less disease. Access the diagnostic form on our website here: LINK

Business of Golf:
The golf business as a whole is in upswing. With NGCOA reporting rounds up 33% and 83% of Canadian Clubs reporting revenue up in 2022, its time to capitalize on full tee sheets. Utilization growth post-covid has increased from our former national average of 54% utilization to an approximated staggering 72%. Our Olds College post-grads have calculated golf participation up to 16%, nearly double those 2021 statistics.

Member services:
The Foundation’s member services include multiple speaking engagements at local, regional and national events. This year, we are very pleased to announce support from our provincial associations, The Manitoba golf Superintendents Association, the Saskatchewan Turfgrass Association, Alberta Golf Superintendents, and British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association!

Tremendous support by our provincial associations will have a huge impact on investment and advancement of applied research.  The ATRF are also very pleased to announce, with full participation by our industry associations, discounted disease diagnosis services are accessible throughout Western Canada!  These combined investments provide ATRF the resources to provide industry lectures to each province, including Landscape Alberta, Sportsturf Canada, Green Drop, and Town Council for the City of Edmonton.  With over 20hrs of education and CEU’s delivered, thank you to all our investors.

Olds College Turf Program Update
All our turf education programs are at capacity once again. Our certificate, diploma, 3rd and 4th yr degree educates approximately 100 students per year, graduating roughly 55 annually. The continued success has been due in part to our unique timing, falling outside the typical semester Jan-April, students are never pulled off the golf course during growing season. We remain committed to our diploma student providing hands-on learning on campus Jan-April, however overwhelming demand has dictate our Bachelor or Applied Science in Golf Course management will proceed 100% online in November for the next intake. For more info, check our Olds College website!

Farewell, David Greene
This year we lost a dear friend and advocate for the turf industry, long standing ATRF member and also our foundation treasurer. David Green passed too soon, but doing what he loved, Aug 9, 1954 - Feb 26,2023. If you knew Dave, you’ll recall his zest for life, his positive disposition and philanthropic approach each and every day. If you are able, join us on Saturday, April 22, 2-5pm at 738, 3rd Ave SW Calgary, at Buchanan’s for his Celebration of Life. Thank you Dave, we’re going to miss you.

Should anyone have any questions, please check the website LINK for your sector representative, or reach out to Jason,, or 403-556-8243