For hundreds of years, hearty, drought-resistant buffalograsses have thrived on the Great Plains of America. The search for improved, urbanized buffalograsses that could be used for lawns, golf courses, parks, and other commercial turf applications throughout the country was accomplished when scientists at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) developed new and improved turf buffalograsses.
The urbanized buffalograsses require up to 50 percent less water than the commonly used Kentucky bluegrass.
The grasses are as tough as their prairie ancestors while requiring far less mowing and fertilization than traditional turf, can grow successfully in poor soil, and are especially useful in water-short areas.
The UNL research team developed the environmentally friendly buffalograsses over 18 years. Research was first headed by Terrance Riordan and now by Robert Shearman, both professors of agronomy and horticulture at the university. Ten improved turf buffalograss cultivars have been released since the research began. Major research funding has come from the United States Golf Association (USGA), which has provided more than $1 million to support this research. Cultivars developed through this research have generated more than $1 million in royalties.
Turf buffalograsses are sold as seed, sod or as the UNL-developed, pre-rooted plugs, which allow the grass to become established faster than by seeding. UNL has licensing agreements with several companies for various turf buffalograsses.
While different UNL turf buffalograss cultivars grow best in differing climates and conditions, all share some important characteristics. They are easy on the eye as well as the environment. All are darker green and denser, and maintain their color longer than conventional buffalograsses, making them well suited for home and commercial turf applications.
This story was originally published in 2007.
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