I visited the East Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center in Knoxville yesterday to see many of the turfgrass experiments now underway. This large facility has vast swaths of turfgrass plots sweeping down to the Tennessee River.
What really caught my eye, and is now under construction and nearly ready for planting, is an exciting new research center. The Center for Safer Athletic Fields is a partnership between Astroturf® and the University of Tennessee. Dr. Jim Brosnan explained how these 60 miniature athletic fields and other research plots at the Center have been designed for many interesting experiments. From the press release announcing this Center:
The unique outdoor research facility will comprise 60 small-scale athletic research fields constructed from a variety of playing surfaces. UT turfgrass scientists will compare the safety and performance of synthetic playing surfaces to natural grass surfaces. Field qualities will range from those employed for professional-level sports to surfaces used by schools, public parks and recreation fields.
Some of the other research trials I saw included:
- Bluegrass evaluation plots
- Zoysiagrass variety evalution
- A multitude of weed control plots, including some really interesting pre-emergent product results, Poa annua control trials, and innovative combinations of herbicides with cultural practices to optimize weed control
- Seedhead and disease control trials
- Ultradwarf bermudagrass and seashore paspalum and zoysiagrass on putting greens
The UT Turfgrass Field Day will be held on September 15, 2011. I wish I could be there for that. Seeing the various grasses right at the end of summer, when we might expect warm-season grasses to be at their best, and cool-season grasses to be at their worst, would be an ideal time to see which grasses perform best and which maintenance practices and products perform well to create the desired playing surfaces.