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NMSU turfgrass specialist speaks at international conference in Spain

An international turfgrass society recently turned to a New Mexico State University specialist to impart information on irrigation techniques during a lecture series in Spain.

A crew lays down fresh turfgrass at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Spain. Bernd Leinauer, an Extension turfgrass specialist at New Mexico State University, had the chance to visit the stadium, home to the Real Madrid soccer club, as part of his trip to attend the European Turfgrass Society conference. (Photo courtesy of Bernd Leinauer)

Bernd Leinauer, a professor and Cooperative Extension Service turfgrass specialist, was invited to speak at the first European Turfgrass Society field day at Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, April 21-22.

The goal of the conference was to address pressing topics and issues concerning the maintenance of healthy turfgrass. This year's theme revolved around sustainability and how much irrigation water turf managers can afford to use to strike a balance between conserving the precious resources and not harming a tourist industry that relies on the green blades to attract visitors to different regions around the world.

"There are a lot of similarities between what is happening in New Mexico, the Southwest and the rest of the world," Leinauer said.

In his talk, "Irrigating Turfgrass with Impaired Water: Possibilities and Challenges," Leinauer discussed the effects of low-quality water on turfgrass performance. One of the main strategies to conserve water in irrigation is to avoid potable water altogether and use alternative sources that are usually much higher in salinity.

"Using saline waters for turfgrass stands requires the use of different turfgrasses and the use of different management strategies," he said.

The salt, Leinauer added, has to be monitored and repeatedly leached out of the root zone.

Turfgrass specialists from universities, research stations and private companies in Europe and the United States were invited to speak at the event. Other topics at the conference included information on warm-season grasses for the southern part of Europe, the adaptability of different turfgrasses to hot and cold climates, and water amendment materials for sports turf root zones.

As an added bonus to his short trip, Leinauer was invited to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, famous for being the home of the Real Madrid soccer club.

Though he was not able to watch a soccer game, Leinauer watched the process of new turfgrass being laid out for the entire stadium. And, he talked strategies with the groundskeeper who faces salinity issues from irrigating the playing field with water from a treatment plant.

Leinauer said he found it very interesting and informative to see the different approaches turfgrass managers are using to grow healthy turfgrass in other countries. He added that he was very grateful for the opportunity to take NMSU's turfgrass program to a global audience.