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Auburn turfgrass researchers to collaborate with UK-based firm
David Rountree | February 1, 2017
STRI Group Conducting Performance Tests on Golf Course

STRI conducts performance testing at the Open 2016 at Royal Troon in Scotland.
Photo: STRI Group

With research centers in the United Kingdom, where it is based, as well as in Australia and Qatar, sports-turf consultancy STRI Group says it is now establishing a collaborative program with Auburn University in which the two will cooperate on a wide variety of turfgrass research.

Dr. Scott McElroy says he’s one of many turfgrass researchers at Auburn who are excited about the collaboration with STRI Group scientists.
Photo: Auburn University College of Agriculture

At Auburn, Dr. Scott McElroy, a professor in the College of Agriculture’s Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department – the department in which Auburn’s turfgrass program resides – says the agreement with STRI Group is “a great opportunity not only to grow our research program at Auburn, but also to greatly enhance the educational content, internship experiences and job opportunities for our students.”

Auburn’s turfgrass program is extensive, including sports turf-related work but also virtually all applications in the landscape.

And while STRI is known for its broad expertise in sports surfaces, McElroy said in an interview Wednesday the company “does a lot more,” especially in terms of basic research. He said the many opportunities for collaboration are being studied and narrowed down to a program of work.

Naturally, much of Auburn’s turfgrass focus has been on the Southeastern United States. That won’t be changing, but McElroy anticipates the research pursued by the university and the consulting firm – “the on-the-ground research” – will address areas of study in which there is worldwide interest.

No terms of the agreement were disclosed, and McElroy declined to comment “except to say that they (STRI Group) are investing in Auburn.”

Auburn’s turfgrass program researchers currently do a lot of work in the area of pest management, McElroy said, whether the “pest” is a weed, insect or disease. The university’s current work also includes plant growth regulation and other science with special relevance to the sports turf industry.

STRI Group’s director, Lee Penrose, said the firm “is thrilled to collaborate with such a forward-thinking and well-respected university as Auburn. Together, our organizations will create the leading sports turf facility in the U.S., demonstrating the latest in international thinking.”

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