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NMSU turfgrass scientists, students visit turf program in Italy

A team of scientists and graduate students from New Mexico State University learned about the similarities and differences in overseas turfgrass research during a visit last November to the University of Padua in Italy.

Dr. Stefano Macolino (front row, second from right) discusses the turfgrass program at the University of Padua in Italy with scientists and researchers from New Mexico State University during a trip last fall. In the front row, from left, are research scientist Ty Barrick, Extension Plant Sciences turfgrass specialist Bernd Leinauer, research scientist and Ph.D. student Jose Makk, Macolino, research specialist Elena Sevostianova and, in back, research specialist Cody Robertson. (Courtesy Photo)

"Dr. Stefano Macolino, from the Department of Agronomy and Vegetable Production at the University of Padua, and I have developed a research collaboration over the past three years because both of us research similar areas of turfgrass management: climatic adaptations, water conservation, and salinity tolerances in turfgrasses," said Bernd Leinauer, turfgrass specialist for Extension Plant Sciences at NMSU. "I met Stefano for the first time in 2004 when he was in Las Cruces for a private visit. We met again at the International Turfgrass Conference in Wales in 2005 and we decided to collaborate on a number of research projects."

The University of Padua is about 30 miles west of Venice, close to the Mediterranean Sea. The climate in this area is similar to southern New Mexico - fairly cold winters and warm summers. The University of Padua is where Galileo Galilei taught around 1620, and they still have lecture rooms from that time.

"Water conservation and salinity problems are critical issues in agriculture and turfgrass management that are not limited to the southwestern United States and must be addressed world wide," Leinauer said. "Collaborating with one of the oldest universities in the world on these issues shows how universal and transferable our research is. Macolino investigates the very same issues in Italy. Collaborating with him will not only help strengthen our findings and broaden their applicability, but will also help us secure joint international funding, and establish a student exchange program."

Macolino and Enzo Lorefice, a graduate student, spent about four weeks during the summer of 2005 in Las Cruces learning various techniques and working on several research projects at NMSU.

"Both Macolino and Lorefice helped with daily maintenance of our plots, with the installation of a subsurface drip system, and with data collection on our salinity plots," Leinauer said.

"Last fall, our group returned the favor and visited him in Padua to learn about his research projects," Leinauer said.

Attending from NMSU were research specialists Elena Sevostianova and Cody Robertson, research scientist Ty Barrick, and research scientist and Ph.D. student Jose Makk.

The NMSU team gave four presentations in Macolino's department, including "Turf Research at New Mexico State University" (Leinauer), "Saline Water for Turf Irrigation" (Sevostianova), "Turf Performance in Two Golf Green Systems" (Makk), and "Efficacy of Water Conditioning Devices on Perennial Ryegrass Quality" (Barrick). With these presentations the NMSU researchers introduced students and faculty to a portion of NMSU's turf program and highlighted some of the key findings in the areas of subsurface irrigation, golf green construction, salt tolerant turfgrass species, and treatment of saline irrigation water.

Macolino is currently working on securing funds to send one of his turfgrass students to NMSU for one summer. Macolino and Leinauer also are planning to submit a research proposal to the European Community.
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