Reports on Topical Issues

This page contains information on selected topical issues. Current subject areas include water use, water quality, fate of pesticides in the environment, fertilization, and trends in the southern California turfgrass industry, and benefits of turfgrass.

Updated Sept. 2009

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Water Use

"Cash for Grass" - A Cost Effective Method to Conserve Landscape Water?

Paper addressing whether offering rebates for the conversion of turf to xeriscape is a cost effective and environmentally friendly method to achieve water savings, including examining the effectiveness of several "Cash for Grass" programs.

Article by Sylvan Addink, Ph.D., Certified Professional Agronomist

Background and Evaluation of Weather-sensing Landscape Irrigation Controllers

A summary of a study which used selected weather-sensing irrigation controllers to determine the climatic data the controllers use, how easy they are to setup and operate, and how closely their irrigation regimes match landscape irrigation needs established by previous field research.

Article from the Fall 2004 issue of Co-Hort, a publication which summarizes current research and information on issues related to urban landscapes, turfgrass, and ornamental/floriculture crop production and published by the UC Cooperative Extension Specialists in the UCR Dept. of Botany and Plant Sciences (Donald J. Merhaut and Dennis Pittenger, Editors)

What We Know About Landscape Water Requirements

This article emphasizes the continuing need of research-based information when considering landscape water requirements.

Article from the Spring 2004 issue of Co-Hort, a publication which summarizes current research and information on issues related to urban landscapes, turfgrass, and ornamental/floriculture crop production and published by the UC Cooperative Extension Specialists in the UCR Dept. of Botany and Plant Sciences (Vic Gibeault, Donald J. Merhaut, and Dennis Pittenger, Editors)

Trends in Golf Course Water Use and Regulation in California

A paper that compares an annual water budget based on reference evapotranspiration (ETo) x landscape area (in acre feet) with estimated annual irrigation water use (in acre feet) for hypothetical 18-hole golf courses located in three southern California climates: southern coast marine climate (a golf course located in Irvine); transition climate between marine and desert climates (a golf course located in Riverside); and southern California desert climate (a golf course located in Indio, Palm Springs area).

Best Management Practices for Turfgrass Water Conservation

The purposes of this document developed by the University of Georgia and the GCSAA are to foster development and implementation of site-specific water conservation plans on golf courses and other turf areas based on the Best Management Practices (BMPs) approach and to foster the adoption of the BMP approach to water conservation by regulatory agencies.

Additional information:

California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) Data
The CIMIS data page enables users (free of charge) to: view daily and monthly sample reports; retrieve CIMIS data; read important information on CIMIS quality control; read detailed information on CIMIS data types, formats, and sizes; and view the weather station list.

CIMIS Reference Evapotranspiration (color picture)
Color map of the 18 ETo zones in California and a table of monthly (and annual) average reference evapotranspiration by ETo zone (inches/month).

WUCOLS: Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (Adobe Acrobat file)
This guide provides irrigation water needs evaluations for over 1,900 species used in California landscapes. It was developed to provide guidance in the selection and maintenance of plants based on irrigation water needs.

Water-Related Websites
California State Law
California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) Information
  California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC) Information
  Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California Information
  Other California Government and Related Agencies
Federal Government Agencies
  Other Regional or National Associations / Organizations
  United States Golf Association (USGA) Green Section Information
  Turfgrass Information Center at Michigan State University
  Water-related Information at Universities

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Water Quality

Surface Water Quality (Runoff)

Landscape Pesticides and Surface Water Quality
Article from the Winter 2006 issue of WaterWise which presents a brief overview of a study examining the effect of landscape planting covers on the persistence of two commonly used landscape herbicides: 2,4-D and dicamba. The study was part of an overall effort to identify strategies for minimizing pesticide runoff from residential areas to urban streams.

The Runoff Rundown
The newsletter of the Water Education Foundation, first published in Spring 2005, which focuses on "how stakeholders and regulators are using creative strategies to address the challenges posed by nonpoint source pollution." The newsletter is meant to be a "forum for sharing real-world experiences that have contributed to reducing nonpoint source pollution."

TMDLs - A New Approach to Water Quality Regulation

"The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) term refers to a regulatory program, numeric water-quality standards, the process to set those standards, and a new approach to regulating water-quality. The TMDL approach is different from past water-quality regulation because it focuses on improving the quality of a water body rather than limiting the concentration of pollutants coming out of the end of a pipe. Furthermore, the TMDL approach is designed to limit pollution from both point and non-point pollution sources. Finally, the TMDL program's goal of improving the quality of water bodies necessitates a watershed-wide pollution-reduction strategy."

Article from the debut edition (Winter 2003) issue of WaterWise, a quarterly publication addressing water issues published by the UC Cooperative Extension Specialists in the UCR Dept. of Environmental Sciences (Dr. Bo Cutter, Editor)

Additional information on TMDLs:
USEPA Grants Final Approval to California's 2002 §303(d) List
Article from the Fall 2003 issue of WaterWise, a quarterly publication addressing water issues published by theUC Cooperative Extension Specialists in the UCR Dept. of Environmental Sciences (Dr. Bo Cutter, Editor)

Runoff Water Quality Laws and Their Enforcement in California
Article from the Spring 2003 issue of Co-Hort, a publication which summarizes current research and information on issues related to urban landscapes, turfgrass, and ornamental/floriculture crop production and published by the UC Cooperative Extension Specialists in the UCR Dept. of Botany and Plant Sciences (Vic Gibeault, Donald J. Merhaut, and Dennis Pittenger, Editors)

TMDLs: A Significant Change in Water Quality Regulation Enforcement
Article from the Winter 2000 issue of Soil Water and Irrigation Management, a quarterly publication of the UCR Department of Environmental Sciences (Dr. Laosheng Wu, Editor)

California Environmental Protection Agency – State Water Resources Control Board – Water Quality: TMDL Information

American Water Resources Association – TMDLs: Total Maximum Daily Loads
The part of the 1972 federal Clean Water Act - just beginning to be regulated - related to non-point sources of contamination to waterways...our neighborhood urban and rural storm drains.

North Carolnia State University (NSCU) TurfFiles – Water Quality Publications

Groundwater Quality (Leaching)

Nitrate Groundwater Pollution Hazard Index
From the UC Center for Water Resources, the purpose of this index is "to provide information for farmers to voluntarily target resources for management practices that will yield the greatest level of reduced nitrogen contamination potential for groundwater by identifying the fields of highest intrinsic vulnerability."

Nitrogen leaching and best management practices for overseeded bermudagrass fairways
Summary report of a study which investigated the effect of soil type (sandy loam or loamy sand), annual nitrogen-fertility program, and irrigation amount on nitrate leaching.

Development of BMPs for fertilizing lawns to optimize plant performance and nitrogen uptake while reducing the potential for nitrate leaching
Summary report of a study whose primary goal was to evaluate annual N rate and source on tall fescue to determine which factor(s) optimize plant performance and N uptake while reducing the potential for nitrate leaching.

Movement of Nitrogen Fertilizer in a Turfgrass System
Article from California Turfgrass Culture (Vol. 48, Nos. 1&2, pages 1-4) discussing the results of a study to monitor the movement of nitrogen below the root system of cool-season turfgrasses when applied at high rates and frequent intervals.

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Fate of Pesticides in the Environment

Contact Transfer of Pesticides from Turf: Refocusing Default Assumptions on Reality
Article from Better Turf Thru Agronomics (December 1999, pages 1-2) that discusses the need for the turf industry to be aggressive in determining the levels of human exposure of chemicals from turf, or face being regulated by unvalidated default assumptions made by regulators with little, if any, information or familiarity with turfgrass.

Further Evaluation and Modeling of Pesticide Partitioning Data from the UCR Putting Green Lysimeters
The objectives of this study were to measure site-specific critical water flow and pesticide transformation and to simulate pesticide fate of two fungicides and two insecticides using measured hydraulic properties and pesticide parameters as model inputs and to compare model outcomes of the simulations with measured field data.

Additional information:
PesticideWise Search Engine

Search engine which includes a comprehensive EPA-USDA database and presents critical information on a pesticide's properties and water quality risks.

USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online
An electronic technical journal published by the USGA and housed with the Turfgrass Information File (TGIF) at the Michigan State University Libraries. It reports the results of research projects funded under USGA's Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program.

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Turfgrass Fertilizers and Fertility Programs for Tall Fescue

Slide Presentation (best viewed in Internet Explorer) or Adobe Acrobat PDF file

General information regarding feritilizer types and fertility programs for managing tall fescue.

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Trends in the Southern California Turfgrass Industry

The California Golf Economy- A report commissioned by GOLF 20/20 for the California Alliance for Golf, and prepared by SRI International, July 2008

The California Golf Economy Full-Report

The California Golf Economy Summary-Report

ABSTRACT: With 3 million golfers, 926 courses, and a large number of annual golf events, golf in the Golden State is more than an enjoyable pastime- it is a key industry contributing to the vitality of California's economy. In 2006, the size of California's direct golf economy was approxiamately $6.9 billion. This is comparable to revenues generated by important industries in the state, such as biotechnology-focused research and development ($4.6 billion), wineries ($8.2 billion), and semiconductor and related device manufacturing ($10.9 billion). Golf brings visitors to the state, spurs new residential construction, generates retail, sales, and creates demand for a myriad of goods and services. In 2006, California's golf industry generated a total economic impact of $15.1 billion, supporting nearly 160,000 jobs with $4.8 billion of wage income. The continued health and growth of the golf industry has a direct bearing on future jobs, commerce, economic development, and tax revenues for the large number of California's communities and industries.

Economic Impacts of Environmental Horticulture in California, South Carolina, and the U.S.

ABSTRACT: Information about the economic impacts of environmental horticulture is important for better government and business decision-making. Californians spent $8.52 billion on marketed and in-house environmental horticulture, managed at least 1.37 million acres of horticultural landscapes, and generated $10.1 billion of related sales in 1995. These sales directly supported 128,842 jobs. According to preliminary estimates, golf course superintendents and their staffs spent $864 million and worked 14,210 full-time-equivalent jobs to care for 145,386 acres of landscapes at golf courses in 2000. The area of facilities with golf courses and real spending to care for these landscapes both grew 2.1% per year during 1995-2000. Employment in golf course maintenance grew 1.1% per year during the same period. In South Carolina, retail sales of marketed goods and services for environmental horticulture grew from $513 million in 1994 to $948.5 million in 1999. Adjusted for inflation, these sales increased 10.6% per year. Employment associated with the production and sale of these products grew from 18,478 full-time equivalent jobs in 1994 to 24,710 in 1999, or 6.0% during the period. Although the direct economic impacts are larger in California than South Carolina, they are larger relative to traditional agriculture in the Palmetto state than the Golden state. The greater relative importance of environmental horticulture in the farm economy of the Palmetto state coincides with the greater proportion of land that South Carolinians have converted land into residential and commercial real estate. In the U.S., retail expenditures on marketed goods and services of this industry were $54.8 billion in 1998. Estimates of expenditures and sales associated with not only marketed but also in-house environmental horticulture at the end-user level were $93.5 billion and $92.9 billion in 1995 for the U.S. Adjusted for inflation but not for any economic or demographic growth, these estimates would have been $103.7 billion and $103.0 billion in 2001. Researchers should focus on not only estimation of economic impacts but also analysis of the behavioral determinants of these impacts.

Original source: Templeton, S. 2002. Economic Impacts of Environmental Horticulture in California, South Carolina, and the U. S. Tim D. Davis and Victor A. Gibeault (eds.), Proceedings of the Symposium on Urban Agriculture: Emerging Opportunities in Science, Education, and Policy, pgs. 117-124.

Economic Impacts of California’s Golf Course Facilities in 2000

Facilities with golf courses in California enable people to golf, play other sports, dine out, and participate in other social activities. People spent $4.350 billion in 2000 at these facilities. These expenditures included $1.679 billion in golf membership dues, green fees, car fees, and related charges, $963 million for food and beverages, $797 million for lodging, and $250 million for merchandise from on-site golf shops. Golfers played 39.5 million 18-hole equivalent rounds in 2000. Net of imports, expenditures at these facilities represented $4.251 billion of sales to final demand in the same year. These 'direct' sales became $2.464 billion in personal income to Californians. The total sales, income, and tax impacts on the state economy were $7.872 billion, $4.546 billion, and $1.370 billion in 2000. Direct sales of $4.251 billion directly supported 62,173 jobs and, through indirect and induced sales impacts, an additional 37,609 jobs. The direct sales and jobs impacts in California were almost identical to those in Florida. The total value-added impact accounted for 0.4% of the California's gross state product in 2000.

In 2000 superintendents and their staffs spent $824 million and worked the equivalent of 13,799 full-time jobs to care for 113,672 acres of the state's 977 golf courses. Real spending on golf course maintenance increased 0.8% annually and the number of jobs associated with this maintenance increased 0.5% per year during 1995-2000. Superintendents used 340,160 acre-feet of water to irrigate 87,693 acres in 2000. Revenues per acre-foot of applied water and per acre of land were, on average, 8.6 and 6.8 times larger at golf courses than agricultural crop farms.

Survey data were used to estimate direct impacts of the facilities on sales and jobs. These estimates are conservative. Indirect and induced impacts on sales and jobs, all value-added impacts, and all tax impacts were estimated with the IMPLAN input-output model of California.

A Survey of Professional Turfgrass Managers in Southern California Concerning Their Use of Turfgrass Best Management Practices

Slide Presentation (best viewed in Internet Explorer) or Adobe Acrobat PDF file

Turfgrass management best management practices (BMPs) encompass a wide variety of activities, including fertilization, irrigation, mowing, pest control, and soil management. Little attention is given to determining just how effective information regarding BMPs is being assimilated and used by professional turfgrass managers. The objectives of this study were to assess the current perception and implementation of selected turfgrass BMPs and to determine whether or not those perceptions and implementations differed 1) between turfgrass advisors and managers and 2) between general and sports turfgrass managers. Professionals from the turfgrass industry, with an average of 13 years of experience and largely comprised of decisionmakers (88%), were surveyed at the University of California, Riverside, Turfgrass Research Conference and Field Day in Fall 1998 and 1999. Turfgrass managers, especially sports turfgrass managers, were found to be the most committed to implementing the BMPs in the survey. Overall, survey respondents considered BMPs to be important and not highly difficult to implement. Limitations to the adoption of BMPs were a lack of financial backing, employee education, and necessary time-all of which could be remedied with a sufficient commitment of resources by the turfgrass industry.

Slide presentation from the 2000 UC Riverside Turfgrass and Landscape Research Conference. Companion article also published in the July-September 2002 issue of HortTechnology (Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 498-504).

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Benefits of Turfgrass

Turf Protects the Environment, Benefits Health
Turfgrass has a direct effect on most California residents. With over 90% of our population residing in urban or suburban areas, turfgrasses, along with trees, shrubs, ground covers and flowering plant material, are an important aspect of "man's planned landscape." Many recreational facilities depend on a uniform, vigorous, well-maintained turf sward as the medium of play. Also, turf modifies people's environment in may positive ways, including reducing discomforting glare, reducing noise, reducing soil erosion and dust, and modifying high temperatures by heat dissipation. Lastly, turf alone or in a landscape setting, is aesthetically pleasing which positively influences our mental and physical feelings of well-being.

In times of strained budgets and limited resources, it is appropriate to ask the question: "what is the importance of turfgrass to Californians?" It is also appropriate to be very specific about the contributions of turfgrass in our society. This article provides research-based information on the value of turfgrass to people and the environment in which we live.

Additional information on environmental horticulture urban agriculture:
Proceedings of the Symposium Urban Agriculture: Emerging Opportunities in Science, Education and Policy

Proceedings are available for purchase.

Agriculture has typically been associated with the production of food and fiber
commodities in rural areas. In the 21st century, agriculture is much broader than this and includes such diverse items as environmental horticulture, planning the use of green space, control of insect and rodent pests, wildlife management, and food production by city dwellers. In an effort to broaden awareness in this regard, a national symposium was held May 19-22, 2002 in Dallas, Texas. The mission of the symposium, as developed by the Organizing Committee, was as follows: To define and describe the components and issues of urban agriculture and examine the common ground and opportunities that exists between urban and rural communities.

Urban and Agricultural Communities: Opportunities for Common Ground

Full report available for purchase on the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology website.

"The changing role of agriculture in urban settings is considered in this comprehensive report written by a twelve-member task force. The report frames "urban agriculture" in both historical and contemporary American society, providing a picture of geographic, demographic, and economic changes in rural and metropolitan life. Policy issues such as land preservation, alternative market opportunities, sprawl, taxation, and food security are considered. Research and educational challenges are presented for consideration by those at institutions of higher education, including land-grant universities."


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