Turfgrass industry leaders learn from Clemson researchers
CLEMSON — Derek Gracely knows for his lawn care business to be successful, his team needs to understand the latest research-based trends in turf care.
“We really work hard to train our teams,” Gracely said. “We believe that if our team is empowered with knowledge, we can in turn empower our customers with solutions.”
Gracely and his crew were among the crowd who gathered for this year’s Clemson University Turf Grass Research and Education Field Day.
Field day participants learned how to use plant growth retardants to reduce maintenance costs, the latest in nematode and insect control, and cutting-edge irrigation and nutrient-management strategies.
Turfgrass research and outreach is an important part of the Clemson turfgrass program, said Bert McCarty, a Clemson researcher known for his expertise in turfgrass weed management, as well as soil physical properties and environmental stress issues that affect turfgrass management.
Turfgrass plays a major role in the state’s economy. An economic impact report just released by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism shows the golf industry was responsible for more than 33,000 jobs and $2.705 billion in economic output in the state in 2015.
“There are over one million acres of lawns, hundreds of golf courses and countless sports fields in this state,” said McCarty. “The Grand Strand of South Carolina is a major golf destination in the country, so it is essential that we continue with research and development, finding better and safer practices and to continue to grow businesses related to the production and maintenance of turfgrass in South Carolina.”
Tim Krieger, executive director of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, said the turfgrass industry is lucky to have partnerships with Clemson researchers.
“We know we can call Clemson any time with questions and get answers,” Krieger said. “And we know we’ll get the answers and the information we need specifically for our golf courses.”
Clemson students were given opportunities to hone their communication and presentation skills by leading discussions and giving poster presentations about their turfgrass research.
“Clemson University’s turfgrass research and education field day gave me a great chance to meet and talk with many people who work in the turfgrass industry,” said Phillip “P.J.” Brown, a doctoral student in the university’s turgrass program. “These conversations gave me valuable insights into current interests and trends in the industry and allowed me to establish several new contacts, all of which should stand me in good stead when I move on with my career. The whole day was a great learning experience for me as a graduate student.”