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Researchers across the U.S. are hard at work making turfgrass safer for athletes

September 19, 2023

Researchers at land-grant institutions across the nation are working to improve turfgrass to keep athletes safer and to minimize negative environmental impacts from practices used to maintain said playing surfaces.

Clemson University and North Carolina State University

To grow and keep turfgrass flourishing and safe, researchers at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., wrote a playbook for managing sports fields.

Best Management Practices for Carolina Sports Fields, written by Lambert “Bert” McCarty at Clemson and Grady Miller at N.C. State, contains research-based information and serves as a reference guide for sports field managers and students, as well as regulatory agencies worldwide.

“Information included in this book is the most current available and includes traditional and recent agronomic trends necessary to provide desirable, yet safe, playing conditions,” McCarty told Clemson News. “This information applies to natural grass fields as well as synthetic (turf) fields. It pertains to most fields and budgets, from professional to local parks and recreation fields, including football, soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse and rugby.”

Oklahoma State University

Researchers at Oklahoma State University have developed and commercialized 10 turfgrass varieties with two more varieties expected to be released soon. The university’s most recently released Bermudagrass variety, Tahoma 31, can be found on golf courses, football fields and soccer complexes nationwide, as well as in the stadiums and/or practice fields of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Commanders, the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears.

University of Tennessee

At the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, researchers for the UT Center for Athletic Field Safety compare natural grass-playing surfaces to synthetic surfaces, to improve athletic performance and reduce athlete injuries.

University of Georgia

University of Georgia turf research program faculty and research scientists are taking their turfgrass information to a new level by providing information to Spanish-speaking audiences abroad. Led by Alfredo Martinez-Espinoza, a professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a UGA Cooperative Extension Service plant pathologist, members of the UGA Turf Team recently were invited to develop a training and certification program to support the field managers of Mexico’s premier soccer leagues as they prepare for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

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