Getting turfgrass science updates from experts

Field days allow attendees to get turf research updates firsthand.


Purdue University Turfgrass Field Day
Professor Aaron Patton, Ph.D., (center top) talks turf during the 2022 Purdue University Turfgrass Field Day in West Lafayette, Ind. Photo by Darrell J. Pehr

University agricultural science centers have a long history of hosting field days to help get the word out about ongoing and completed agricultural research projects. 

The roots of this practice are deep and usually connected to the land-grant status of institutions in every state in the U.S. Most state universities have some level of scientific outreach to the communities they serve, and since passage of the Hatch Act in 1887, agricultural experiment stations across the U.S. have been supported by the federal government to conduct relevant agricultural research. Field days provide the means to share the results of that research to those who would benefit from it — usually farmers or other producers.

I attended many field days when I worked at New Mexico State University, where the topics at field days mirrored the agricultural production of the neighboring area. In New Mexico, that meant field days often focused on the production of alfalfa, cattle, cotton, dairy, grapes and, of course, green chiles. Occasionally, the field days also included a turf science component, where turfgrass plots were being tested under various conditions. I was always a little more interested in the work being done by turfgrass professors, most notably Bernd Leinauer, Ph.D., because it had a real-world connection for me (and my yard).

Fortunately for turfgrass managers, field days are planned at university science centers across the country each year. And unlike field days focused on crops, which generally are scheduled when the crops are maturing in the late summer, the schedule for turfgrass field days is more varied, planned as long as the grass is growing and there is something to talk about. There already have been field days this year in warmer parts of the country. Some are coming up soon, and more will take place in late summer or early fall. If you really want to attend a field day focused on turfgrass this year, there are plenty of opportunities.

So, if you’ve never attended a field day, why go?

I’ll give you three reasons.

First and most important is that a field day is when the researchers are all in attendance at their research sites and have important updates to report. They put a lot of time and effort into getting prepared, make detailed presentations and can help with any questions you might have. All you have to do is show up.

Second, it’s a great opportunity to spend time, exchange ideas and compare notes with your colleagues in the turfgrass industry. Not only that, but some field days also include a chance to play golf.

Third, field days usually have great food for their visitors. This was especially true at some of the field days I attended in New Mexico, where the topics might cover agricultural practices related to cattle, green chiles and dairy production, and — surprise! — the lunch menu included green chile cheeseburgers. The people who grow the food really know how to prepare it. 

I attended my first turfgrass field day at Purdue University in 2022 and wondered about the lunch menu, a little worried that the focus on turf science might not translate to a stellar plate of food. Fear not, the barbecue pork platter was outstanding.

If that helps convince you to consider attending a field day this year, here are some coming up this summer:

May 20, Virginia Tech Research Classic & Field Day, Independence Golf Club, Midlothian, Va. Visit or call 804-708-9760 for more information.

July 9, Kentuckiana GCSA, Field Day and Golf, Southeastern Turfgrass Research Center and Greenbrier Golf & Country Club, Lexington, Ky. Go to or contact Lisa Beanblossom at 812-737-1819 for more information.

July 16, Purdue University Turfgrass Field Day, William H. Daniel Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center, West Lafayette, Ind. Visit for more information.

If you attend the Purdue field day, maybe I’ll see you there. I’m thinking about going back for seconds.

Darrell J. Pehr is GCM’s science editor.