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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Research Project #432948

Research Project: Increasing Low-Input Turfgrass Adoption Through Breeding, Innovation, and Public Education

Location: Forage and Range Research

Project Number: 2080-21000-016-24-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2017
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

Objective:
Objective 1: Identify barriers for homeowners and public land managers. We hypothesize that there are several social, technical and marketing barriers that prevent consumers and end users from planting fine fescues on home lawns and other low-input turfgrass areas. Objective 2: Develop and implement phenotyping platforms for use in germplasm improvement programs. We hypothesize that selection of improved fine fescues with greater stress tolerance can be achieved with improved phenotyping platforms for use by both public and private breeders. Objective 3: Improve understanding of how management affects stress tolerance and breeding. We hypothesize that important stress tolerances, such as summer patch disease and heat tolerance, interact in ways that may affect how we select for improved germplasm. Objective 4: Develop a database that can be used to deliver fine fescue cultivar data to stakeholders. We hypothesize that historical and current cultivar data can be used to drive consumer purchasing and turfgrass management decisions when delivered in new ways. Objective 5: Identify solutions for barriers to fine fescue use. We hypothesize that we will be able to increase overall fine fescue use in temperature climates by researching and finding new solutions to barriers preventing fine fescues from being grown by farmers, sold by seed sales people, or planted by homeowners and public land managers. Objective 6: Develop outreach resources and deliver new knowledge to the public. We hypothesize that science-based information about fine fescues can help stakeholders increase their use of this grass to decrease fertilizer, labor, and water inputs.

Approach:
OBJ 1: We will use surveys and small focus groups of consumers and seed growers to identify barriers to adoption of fine fescue. OBJ 2: Based on our previous surveys, we will focus our efforts on disease resistance (summer patch and snow mold), heat tolerance, salinity tolerance, traffic/wear tolerance, improved seed production, and allelopathy. We will use modern approaches such as genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics to learn more about these traits and how to efficiently select for them. OBJ 3: We will test genotype by environment interactions in field trials and use this information to inform and improve our breeding and recommend the most appropriate varieties and species to each location. OBJ 4: We will import all historical fine fescue NTEP data into a newly created database and then exlore ways to better use this information to drive both consumer choices (e.g. choosing the best cultivar) and turfgrass management decisions (e.g. control irrigation systems). OBJ 5: We will plan, initiate, and execute research trials that address the barriers identified in Objective 1 in turf and seed production systems (lawn conversion research, fertility trials, etc.). OBJ 6: We will educate stakeholders about fine fescues based on our present knowledge and new knowledge generated during the grant period. This will be done through online blogs and websites, social media, videos, and other modern delivery systems.