Turfgrass farmers to fund professor

Koenig

Commission wants progressive, innovative researcher

By MATTHEW WEAVER

Capital Press

The Washington Turfgrass Seed Commission has begun to take steps to better meet the industry's research needs.

The commission has provided $300,000 to Washington State University to fund an endowed professor in turfgrass management.

Commissioner Art Schultheis said the position will help the industry meet some research needs such as weed control and how best to handle field residue.

"It's being used as a livestock feed, but is there something else out there that would increase our income somewhere along the way?" he said.

Rich Koenig, chairman of WSU's crop and soil sciences department, said the commission will provide funding over five years, at which point the university will fill the position.

"We can't really call it an endowed position until we have the endowment in place," Koenig said.

The university hopes to obtain matching funds for the endowment from the state.

The university has faculty members in Pullman, Wash., and Puyallup, Wash., who work to support the turfgrass industry, Koenig said, but they primarily focus on turfgrass management.

The person who eventually fills the position will conduct research and teach in support of the turfgrass seed industry, both irrigated and dryland production, Koenig said.

The professor position will give the industry a closer link to the university and allow producers to direct the research through annual meetings to exchange information, Schultheis said.

Ideally, the person who will fill the position will be progressive and innovative, Schultheis said.

"Turfgrass is a long-term project," he said. "You aren't going to see results a year after you start. It's got to be a forward-thinking individual who can look out 10, 12, 15 years and say, 'This is where we want to be.'"

Online

Access the Washington Turfgrass Seed Commission Web site at http://waturfgrass.org.

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