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How the World Cup’s turfgrass might help crops yield more from less

January 9, 2023

A new study from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln shows that seashore paspalum — the turfgrass used at the 2022 World Cup — may soon help grow crops that yield more food with less of the fertilizer that imposes costs on farmers, ecosystems and drinking water, according to Nebraska Today.

After sequencing the full genetic blueprints of the grass, a multi-institution research team discovered the bag of tricks behind its fasting technique. The researchers managed to recreate those tricks in corn seedlings, which responded by growing faster and larger than other, unmodified seedlings deprived of the nutrients.

“There was a period where no one remembered to water the paspalum plant for a couple of months,” said James Schnable, one of the study’s authors and Charles O. Gardner, professor of agronomy at the University of Nebraska. “But the plant was completely fine. In fact, it usually grows so fast that it’ll try to invade the pots of neighboring plants, and the greenhouse manager has to yell at me or folks in my lab to come down and trim it.”

Guangchao Sun, a doctoral alumnus and former postdoc at the University of Nebraska, took notice too. He decided to put seashore paspalum’s resilience to the test with an experiment, growing it alongside corn and sorghum for several weeks under multiple conditions. When the corn and sorghum were denied nitrogen or phosphorous, their stunted development betrayed it.

The seashore paspalum, meanwhile, continued “happily growing.”

“This was a long, long journey,” Sun said. “Honestly, it increased my resilience, too.”

This is posted in Football/Soccer, Industry, News

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