Nation’s Top Scientists Talk Turf

Leading turf research confirms that healthy turfgrass provides a wide range of environmental benefits including preventing soil erosion, minimizing runoff, filtering surface water and conserving rainfall.

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) and the American Chemical Society held a scientific symposium “The Fate of Nutrients and Pesticides in the Urban Environment” in Crystal City, Va., Oct. 12-13, 2005. The symposium, with more than 60 participants, brought together the country’s leading academic researchers, university Extension, green industry and regulatory experts to discuss the latest developments in turfgrass science and public perceptions of turf.

“This conference provided a much-needed forum to present turfgrass research, in particular the environmental fate of nutrients and pesticides that are applied to lawns and golf courses in the urban environment. The 14 experts presenting papers covered a wide range of turfgrass location scenarios, providing insight into how we can use real-world data and models to help us better understand and refine best management practices for maintaining productive and healthy turf,” said Brian Horgan, Ph.D., assistant professor of horticulture science, University of Minnesota.

“We had a unique opportunity to discuss the latest research as well as touch upon the importance of communicating its results to a wider audience. It’s clear that we may have something to contribute to the public policy debate about the appropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides on lawns and in public spaces,” noted A. Martin Petrovic, Ph.D., professor of horticulture/turfgrass science at Cornell University.

“The conference was effective in bringing together the stakeholders, especially researchers and extension, so that communication among groups will be better in the future,” added Ed Brandt, environmental stewardship branch, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Many anti-chemical activist groups would have homeowners believe that maintaining their lawn is a luxury and not a necessity. We’ve heard from our nation’s leading authorities that the opposite is true. A lawn maintained with the appropriate use of fertilizer and pesticides is a healthy ecosystem that prevents erosion and runoff, which means healthier rivers and streams to name just two benefits. This body of research—conducted across many U.S. geographies—clearly demonstrates the role healthy turfgrass plays everywhere in measurably improving our environment,” concluded Allen James, RISE president.

Scientific proceedings from the symposium will be published as a book in late 2006 by the American Chemical Society.

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