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European Turfgrass Society Conference

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the European Turfgrass Society (ETS) Conference in Angers, France. This was a great opportunity to find out what other turfgrass researchers around Europe as well as other parts of the world are currently researching. With so many turfgrass programs and scientists in the United States, it is often hard to see a diverse group of talks at any one show. For instance, scientific conferences in the United States are usually sectioned into various disciplines such as soils, pathology, physiology, entomology, etc. For this reason, I end up migrating to the pathology and more golf-related talks and often miss a lot of other things going on in turfgrass research.
At the ETS conference, all talks are given in one session spread out over several days and mixed with various opportunities to meet and discuss the latest and greatest turfgrass trends with people from across the globe. Below are some highlights of things that I found particularly interesting at this year's conference.

  1. Plant Parasitic Nematodes: Kate Entwistle of The Turf Disease Centre in the UK talked about the increase in nematode activity on cool-season turfgrasses in Europe. The potential for nematodes to cause damage to cool-season turf has been a bit controversial (in my opinion) over the last few years. Many "pathologists" often suggest that any turf that cannot stand the presence of some nematodes probably has other issues more pressing than the nematodes themselves. On the other hand, many "nematologists" often state that these pathogens are in fact the primary cause of many problems. Either way, it does appear that more and more cases of this problem are showing up. Dr. Entwistle stated that some of the main differences among species found in the USA vs. Europe is that the predominant species in the Europe are Meloidogyne and Hilcotylenchus.
  2. Induced Systemic Resistance of Civitas: Dr. Tom Hsiang of the University of Guelph gave another entertaining (Great Introduction about Guelph...I may steal that one) and informative talk about his work to prove that the relatively new horticultural oil Civitas works by inducing natural plant resistance mechanisms. Utilizing Induced Systemic Resistance-related genes, his lab found that the enhanced expression of two jasmonate related genes following treatment with Civitas and inoculation of the M. nivale pathogen. In controlled experiments, Dr. Hsiang also found that Civitas reduced three diseases (dollar spot, brown patch, and Microdochium patch) by 20 to 40% when compared to an inoculated control. Based on field trials presented on this site and by some colleagues, Civitas has been shown to reduce certain diseases, but more field work is needed to work out programs and acceptable tank-mix combination's to provide complete disease suppression.
  3. Preparation for the 2010 World Cup: Although not a scientific presentation about ongoing research, the talk by Dr. A.S. Schoeman on the preparation of the pitches for the World Cup was one of my favorite talks. Dr. Schoeman had a great fluidity to his presentation and gave some interesting facts about the upcoming events. This is the first time that Africa has hosted the World Cup and matches will be played at 10 different venues throughout South Africa. In addition to the ten stadiums, 15 training sites will be utilized and 3 sites will be used exclusively by the referees (what the heck do they need these for?). An interesting component to the preparation is that this will be the first time that matches will be played in HDTV, making the preparation that much more important. Other interesting points include:
    • Most pitches will have Kikuyugrass as the base, but will be overseeded with perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass
    • Logos (currently used for advertising during Rugby matches) will need to be removed prior to the event since these sponsors are not the same for the World Cup.  Current sponsors are asking that their logos be applied with "extra paint" which will make their complete removal more difficult!
    • A few stadiums have "cannon" style irrigation and therefore it will be difficult to pre-dampen the fields (as some teams request) prior to the game without soaking the spectators as well.
For those academics who didn't get a chance to make it to this year's conference, it is a good time to start some relevant research for the European market. The next conference will be held somewhere in England (probably London) in 2012 to coincide with the summer Olympic games. I look forward to attending ETS in 2 years and just hope that mother nature (e.g., the Iceland volcano) cooperates a little better than this year. (Full story on this on Monday).

2 Responses to “European Turfgrass Society Conference”

Megan said...

As a soccer player myself, I wonder what it would feel like to run on kikuyugrass!

John Kaminski said...

It would probably feel OK as long as you had shoes on. The thick and coarse stolons, however, may be rough on a slide tackle!

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