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Posted by: Jacoba Mendelkow on Apr 23, 2012

USU partners with golf organization on turfgrass (by Kevin Opsahl, The Herald Journal)

Utah State University has announced a partnership with the U.S. Golf Association to improve salt tolerance of cool-season turfgrass with a study that will take place over the next three years.

Paul Johnson, an associate professor in plants, soils and climate at USU, the principal investigator of the study, is collaborating with Shaun Bushman, a research geneticist at the Forage and Range Research Lab, a United States Department of Agriculture lab.

“We’re exploring how the turfgrasses tolerate salt, with the hopes of improving the grass such that they can tolerate higher levels of salt. High levels of salt in the soil can severely impact in the growth of the plant,” Johnson said.

The golf course near the Salt Lake International Airport and other grasses in the metro area are affected by that salt in the soil. Johnson said he hasn’t really seen a big problem with the grasses at the Logan Golf Course.

“The Golf Association is most interested in this study from a golf perspective,” Johnson said. “But the results can be used much broader than that. ... It’s not a big problem in Cache Valley, but it is a much bigger problem in the state for sure.”

The goal of the sponsored project is two-fold: to enable a better understanding of the genetic and physiological control of salinity tolerance in Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass — two of the most widely used types of grass around the country and in Cache Valley; and to explore and improve turf quality in alkaligrass, a species with good salinity tolerance but poor turfgrass quality.

“This sponsored research project fits well within the landgrant research mission of Utah State University by supporting USU’s goals for commercialization to benefit the university and the state of Utah,” said Robert Behunin, vice president for commercialization and regional development, in a news release. “We are very excited to develop this collaborative effort with the USGA.”

USU has worked with the USGA three times on other studies.

The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. The USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings.

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kopsahl@hjnews.com


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