OTRF encourages industry investment

Turf and Rec Staff
May 09, 2017
By Turf and Rec Staff
The Devil’s Pulpit in Caledon, Ont., site of the OTRF’s annual fundraising golf tournament on Aug. 28.
The Devil’s Pulpit in Caledon, Ont., site of the OTRF’s annual fundraising golf tournament on Aug. 28.
The lawn care industry in Ontario is being encouraged to invest with the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation to better its future customer service. Sean Gunn, president of the OTRF, spoke to an audience of lawn care professionals in March at the eighth annual Nutrite-sponsored lawn care seminar in Guelph.

“What are you doing to invest in the future of your industry and your business?” Gunn asked.

The OTRF has been raising money for turfgrass research for 35 years, supporting the scientific research of turf culture for the advancement of the turfgrass industry. During the past 10 years alone, $1.2-million has been raised for turf research.

Gunn, who is golf superintendent at The Country Club in Woodbridge, Ont., said money raised by the not-for-profit OTRF is earmarked toward “all that wonderful stuff we can feed down to you guys to make your business better and smarter, so that you can work smarter and not harder.”

He said investing in the OTRF results in more products available to the industry to benefit turfgrass professionals when dealing with challenging management issues.

Gunn said that as a golf superintendent he must constantly fight the stigma that golf courses are “toxic waste dumps,” noting that a recent episode of David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things on CBC television depicted golf in a not-so-flattering light.

“We use the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation to prove to the people how we get around and make turf better by using natural resources.”

The OTRF supports all sectors of the turfgrass industry, including golf, landscaping, sports turf and sod growing. Representatives from the various sectors of the industry, including manufacturers and industry suppliers, form the organization’s board of director and earmark funding toward specific projects.

Financial support comes from various avenues, including corporate sponsorships, annual donations from industry associations and money generated from an annual fundraising golf tournament. Additionally, the OTRF applies for government grants to assist with research funding.

Some of the ongoing research includes natural approaches to dandelion control, improving plant stress tolerance, phosphorous needs for Kentucky bluegrass cultivars, mowing and stress tolerance, synthetic surfaces versus natural surfaces, and irrigation and overseeding protocols in pesticide-free soccer fields.

Other organizations have joined forces with the OTRF to co-fund certain projects.

“Some of these projects are two-to-four-year projects that need to be done and can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000 to complete,” Gunn said. “They’re not cheap projects to do.”

The OTRF might provide $20,000 toward a particular research project that will be supplemented by a $10,000 contribution by perhaps the Western Canada Turfgrass Association or another association outside Ontario.

Gunn said the biological dandelion control study is in its second of three years of research, and is costing about $30,000 a year.

The various ongoing OTRF-funded research projects are outlined in detail on the OTRF website at www.otrf.ca.

Gunn noted the OTRF’s annual golf tournament fundraiser is scheduled for Aug. 28 at the Devil’s Pulpit in Caledon, and is a good opportunity for businesses to entertain long-supporting customers by taking them out for a day of golf.

More details about the tournament can be found at www.otrf.ca.

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