Whether having a family picnic, tossing the pigskin around or playing a few rounds of golf, one of Indiana’s most important agriculture commodities – turfgrass – lies right beneath your feet.
“Over $2 billion is spent annually in Indiana to maintain turfgrass,” says Dr. Aaron Patton, associate professor of agronomy and turfgrass extension specialist for Purdue University. “More than 11,000 jobs are created for Indiana residents by the turfgrass industry.”
Once focused on golf course management, the industry has diversified to include many other lucrative ornamental, recreational and utilitarian applications.
“The industry has expanded to include sports turf field management, as well as a huge increase in both small and large lawn/landscaping businesses trying to meet the high demand of folks who simply don’t desire, or have time to manage their own lawns,” Patton says.
Emphasis on the science of turfgrass management has led to major growth in the industry. Impressive turfgrass research programs, like those at Purdue, and research money generated by the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation, has been vital to ensuring the success of turfgrass in Indiana’s distinct climate.
“We do research on unique management practices designed to help turf survive stress, including severe Indiana winters, drought and pests,” Patton says.
Turfgrass is not only used for attractive lawns or smooth playing fields, but is helpful with erosion prevention and conservation efforts.
Grass roots stop erosion in its tracks by holding the soil in place. Pollutants and sediment can be trapped by planting turfgrass on bare soil, and near bodies of water to prevent water pollution. Creating green spaces also prevents runoff, while releasing oxygen into the air.