Midwest Regional Turf Foundation: Purdue Summer Field Day 2016


On July 14th, Dennis and I had the opportunity to attend the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation (MRTF) Summer Field day at Purdue University. More specifically, we spent 8 hours at the William H. Daniel Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center. I wanted to share a few of the topics that were discussed and some pictures from our day.

It is very hard to accurately describe the Daniel’s Center. The grounds hold 22 acres dedicated to studying turf, both residential and sport. Experiments happen daily at all times of the year. Professors and companies work together to test anything you can think of in the turf industry. Throughout the 22 acres, we were able to have hands on experience with the professors and their research as they led us through training sessions and discussion. Some of what we talked learned about was the “behind the scenes” experiments that happen years before a new product, equipment, or grass seed cultivar hits the market. Everything that was discusses helps us to provide a better service to you!

Not all grass seed is created equally!

One of my favorite experiment plots at the Daniel’s Center is where they are testing new cultivars of grass seeds. These experiments test several things including drought stress, disease resistance, and durability.

Bluegrass Seed Plots

Many of the seed cultivars tested here do not have names. The manufactures test different species and mixes to see how they hold up over time. It was very interesting to see how different each plot was from those around it. These seed plots were planted 3 ago and have had proper irrigation, fertilizer, and weed control.

The most obvious difference was in the Kentucky-31 or K31 seed. A homeowner will often read “Kentucky” and assume that it is a bluegrass. That is not the case! If you look close at the following picture, you can see the K31 is much lighter in color and has a wider blade.

Kentucky 31 or K31 grass between Turf Type Tall Fescue
Walmart and Rural King will have K31 grass seed on sale for a very cheap price. As you can see, even with ideal irrigation, fertilizer and weed control, the K31 stands out as undesirable among the rest. It goes to show that you get what you pay for.
Thousands of studies!
As the day progressed, we were able to learn about just a handful of the current studies that are happening. It was fascinating to hear how many different ways they test equipment, products, grass types, and much more. All of the experiments they preform are replicated at multiple locations throughout the 22 acre complex to ensure that they have the most accurate data. Below are pictures of some of the experiments.
This picture shows one experiment testing what affects mowing height and fertility have on dandelion blooms. A common theme throughout every experiment that involved mowing height was that the higher you mow, the less weeds are present. You can also observe that the turf is darker on the plots that are mowed above 3.5 inches.
Mowing Height Demonstration

The white grub is one of the most destructive insect pests in our region. This area is being used to test different behaviors of the white grubs and their adult beetles. It is fenced off with electrical wire and the beetles are protected in small cages to protect them from being eaten by animals.

White Grub Management Experiment

The hot, humid, and rainy conditions have produced an ideal environment for many turf diseases.If you look closely at this picture, you can see the middle area was treated with a fungicide. The surrounding areas might have also been treated with fungicide but maybe at a different rate, with a different machine, or different formulation.

Golf Course Turf Disease Management

This area shows the effectiveness of about 10 different types of crabgrass pre emergent used at the same time. The study went into detail so far as to test the effect of watering in immediately or waiting a week for rain. Each herbicide was also tested at different strengths.

Pre-emergent Experiment


Field Day Book

Overall we had a great day! Special thanks to everyone how put on this event and Dr. Aaron Patton who led many of our sessions. We had a great time learning about current topics in the lawn care management industry and how we can better serve our customers. A lot of what we talked about was how we can achieve better results. I was fascinated to see how many different ways they test one product before it even makes it back to the manufacture for final production. We talked about much more than what I can fit into this blog post!

As I have said before, lawn care is more than just a hobby. We are constantly reading and learning about different turf management topics. We utilize experts to become better informed so that we can provide the best service to our customers. While having a license to perform lawn care applications is important, a company also needs to have the knowledge of how to use that license.
Be sure to follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram! Head over to our website for more information about services we offer.

About MRTF

The mission of the MRTF is to support turf research and education at Purdue University for the advancement of the turfgrass industry.

Visit http://www.mrtf.org to learn more about the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation.

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