With the December 20, 2019 signing of the FY20 Federal Appropriations bill by President Trump, turfgrass research conducted by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) received a significant increase. The $3,000,000 in new funding boosted federal turfgrass research by 400 percent (from $1,000,000 annually).
The new funding is allocated for research in turfgrass genomics, water-efficient grasses and systems, and ecosystem services. Genomics is the study, understanding and mapping of the genomes of major turfgrass species. Understanding and mapping of genomes can lead to improved genetics, and subsequently better disease-, heat-, cold- and drought-tolerant grasses.
Research on water efficiency is critical to understanding the physiology of plants and how they respond to drought, reduced irrigation and low-quality irrigation water. Ecosystem services refers to the contributions of turfgrass systems to the environment, society and the economy. In other words, how does turfgrass provide benefits to the soil, water, air, human health and safety, and the economy, as well as how can those benefits be maximized?The National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. (NTF) led the effort to obtain the funding, with significant assistance from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) and other allied associations. The 2019 National Golf Day, organized by We Are Golf (www.wearegolf.org), significantly aided the effort as the funding request was a top priority for the 150-plus participants on that day. The new funding is an excellent first step in addressing priorities of the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI), as outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill.