Soon after visiting the UMass Student Farm, Chancellor Reyes asked to learn more about the university's Joseph Troll Turf Research Center which, at over 100 years old, is among the longest running turfgrass research centers and educational programs in the nation.
Situated at the base of beautiful Mount Sugarloaf, about a 10 minute drive from campus, the 20-acre turfgrass facility features gentle topography and silt loam soils—ideal for conducting turfgrass research.
The overall goal of the research at the Center is to educate and train practitioners with the tools needed to produce functional turfgrasses for recreation and green spaces as part of sustainable urban landscapes.
The land and resources provided by the Center are administered by the Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE), and are central to the Stockbridge School's associate and bachelor degree programs in Turfgrass Science and Management. Graduates of our turf program have gone on to become the superintendents of top U.S. golf courses, professional sports stadiums, college campus athletic facilities, and parks.
On site, Stockbridge collaborates with UMass Extension to host an integrated research team made up of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and technical staff.
Stockbridge Turfgrass Science & Management majors benefit from numerous opportunities at the Center to join ongoing faculty investigations into issues of turfgrass viability and sustainability, as well as to get hands-on with commercial turf management equipment.
Research topics include the testing of turfgrass cultivars that are resistant to climate stressors such as cold, drought, and pests, as well as plant diseases and foot traffic. Scientific method is used to find the best techniques for optimizing turfgrass health while reducing the need for pesticides. Our cutting edge labs and Research Greenhouse on the main UMass campus allow us to use the precise climate control mechanisms of indoor growing chambers to delve deeper into mechanisms controlling turfgrass stress tolerance.
Chancellor Reyes met with Stockbridge Director Baoshan Xing, researcher and coordinator for our turfgrass major programs Michelle DaCosta, Facility Superintendant James Poro, Extension Team Leader Jason Lanier, and other staff of the Troll Center. He was given a tour that included turfgrass machinery, field kits for determining soil health, and the tough work of maintaining below-ground sprinkler and irrigation systems.
Reyes even tried his hand at some of our specialized tools used to measure soil moisture, data from which is used to more precisely optimize irrigation schedules, and to prevent unnecessary water use.
The Troll Turf Research Center holds a Turf Field Day, inviting the public and industry practitioners to learn more about the research done there. Summers also include the opportunity to play tennis for science.
Tennis players play on a turfgrass court as researchers gather physics-related data, yielding scientific conclusions about how turf type and height, along with angle and velocity, affect tennis ball bounce rates.
We thank Chancellor Reyes and his office for the opportunity to share what we do every day with the incredible resources housed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.