Research Mission

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The goal of our research program is to lower the non-target impacts of pest management in turfgrass and urban landscapes.

The turfgrass industry contributes significantly to the Wisconsin economy, employing nearly 40,000 people with a $2.4 billion impact on the state economy according to a 2010 report by the Golf 20/20 Foundation.

However, intensively managed turfgrass sites such as golf courses must meet client expectations to near perfection and often rely heavily on pesticide applications to meet these expectations. In addition, some home lawns, public parks, and athletic fields also rely on repeated pesticide applications to produce flawless turfgrass surfaces.

These intensive pesticide applications can have a range of negative human and environmental health effects including high toxicity to aquatic organisms, alteration of soil microbial activity, decrease in pollinator populations, and endocrine disruption in humans.

As an extension specialist with a relatively small research appointment, our program must conduct high quality and client-relevant research that can be disseminated through our extension program. To accomplish this we focus our research on three areas:

  • precision disease management using predictive models
  • pesticide fate and impact on turfgrass landscapes
  • the turfgrass microbiome

Research in each area includes both fundamental and applied objectives to gain a broad biological understanding of the system with the intent of developing pest management recommendations for the turfgrass industry that are both effective and reduce non-target impacts.