The two research projects funded by the organization at the University of Georgia will investigate how naturally occurring enzymes can improve the ability of soils to absorb water, and examine the impact of mowing heights and soil moisture levels on bermudagrass.
The Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation (GGEF) announced it would help fund two water-centric projects for scientists at the University of Georgia, as part of investing more than $23,000 in research projects that will seek to further the game’s drive toward sustainability.
“We are very excited about both projects,” said Foundation Chairman Tim Cunningham, CGCS, Superintendent at Coosa Country Club in Rome, Ga. “Down the road, we expect they will each generate findings to really help the golf course superintendent be more effective and more efficient, both economically and environmentally.”
The projects were selected from seven proposals. The first will investigate promising leads that naturally occurring enzymes can improve the ability of problematic soils to absorb water. Current methods of combating water-repellant, or hydrophobic, soil can be costly and require repeated efforts. The GGEF is funding “Preliminary Field Studies on Enzyme Technology to Alleviate Soil Water Repellency in Turfgrass Situations” at $2,500 in 2012, 2013 and 2014, for a total of $7,500 over three years.
The second project will examine the impact of mowing height and soil moisture levels on bermudagrass, by far the dominant golf course turf cover in the state and across much of the Southeast. Researchers will study the impact of both elements simultaneously. “Morphological and Physiological Response to Bermudagrass to Soil Moisture and Mowing Height” will be funded at a first-year cost of $9,075, with $6,655 to follow in the second year, for a two-year total of $15,730.
This year’s grants represent a major step forward because of the consultation with superintendents on what should be studied, Cunningham said. Members of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association (GGCSA) were first surveyed to isolate their most pressing challenges that research might help to resolve. The findings were shared with researchers, who then submitted their proposals.
“This process gives us the best possible chance of securing information that will benefit golf course superintendents across the state on a day-to-day basis,” Cunningham said. “Sometimes in the past, research-generated outcomes may have been geared more to turfgrass in general, such as for home lawns or sports fields. Now, I think we will see that money raised by the Foundation will benefit golf primarily.”
GGEF, established in 2004, is the philanthropic arm of the GGCSA. It is funded from golf industry efforts including Rounds 4 Research, a public online auction of tee times donated by golf facilities.