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NMSU researcher coauthors two papers on COVID-19s impact on turfgrass industry

A New Mexico State University researcher is part of a group of turfgrass experts from several land-grant universities across the United States that coauthored two newly published papers on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the turfgrass industry.


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Bernd Leinauer, New Mexico State University Regents professor and turfgrass Extension specialist, teamed up with other turfgrass researchers and specialists to write a commentary and research letter to assist turfgrass managers grappling with economic uncertainty amid the pandemic. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Bernd Leinauer, NMSU Regents professor and turfgrass Extension specialist, teamed up with other turfgrass researchers and specialists to write a commentary and research letter to assist turfgrass managers grappling with economic uncertainty amid the pandemic.

We published two papers aimed at helping practitioners justify why turfgrass and natural green spaces are essential during the COVID-19 era and deserving of budgetary resources, said Leinauer, who collaborated with scientists from Cornell University, University of Florida, University of Nebraska, Oregon State University, University of Tennessee, Texas A&M University and the University of Wisconsin.

In their commentary, the authors outline the benefits of managed turfgrass on golf courses, playing fields, recreational parks and urban landscapes to assist decision makers with resource allocation in the COVID‐19 era. In their research letter, they acknowledge that COVID-19 has forced turfgrass managers to re-evaluate their standard practices.

Unlike agricultural producers who grow crops to make a profit by maximizing yields, turfgrass managers cultivate natural grass surfaces to meet an aesthetic or functional ideal that impacts human health and wellbeing but is less easy to quantify, Leinauer said.

In a contracted economy, resources will not always be available to manage a crop or groundcover whose financial benefits are not as easily quantifiable, said Jim Brosnan, lead author of the papers and turfgrass weed scientist at the University of Tennessee. Although the actual minimum costs vary situationally and regionally, minimum costs required to fertilize, irrigate, and mow can be estimated using climate data, turfgrass physiology information and resource costs.

Both papers are available for free on the open access journal Agricultural & Environmental Letters. The commentary is available at https://doi.org/10.1002/ael2.20033, and the research letter is available at https://doi.org/10.1002/ael2.20032.