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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Turf Conference Sets Sights on Salt Nov. 16-19 in Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE - The movers and shakers in the turf world will focus on irrigation salt buildup Nov. 16-19 at the annual Southwest Turfgrass Association Conference at the Sheraton Old Town Hotel here.

Bernhard Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, holds an experimental inland saltgrass. Salt tolerant grasses will be among the spotlighted turf topics Nov. 16-19 at the Southwest Turfgrass Association Conference at the Sheraton Old Town Hotel in Albuquerque. (10/20/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"Landscape irrigation in New Mexico is moving away from drinking or potable water," said Bernhard Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "The only other two sources we have are low quality groundwater and effluent water. Both are high in salts."

The problem for homeowners and golf course managers is that many turfgrasses and landscape plants used here simply can't handle the additional salt, Leinauer said. "Unless you get about 12 inches of rain nicely spread out over the year, you're going to get salt accumulation in the soil," he said.

Among the best alternatives for New Mexico are so-called warm season grasses like Bermuda and zoysia. In addition, a new prospect under study at NMSU is seashore paspalum, a salt-tolerant grass discovered on coastal golf courses in Hawaii. On the islands, the dark green grass, which is similar to a Bermuda grass, can be irrigated with seawater.

"We're studying whether this Hawaiian seashore paspalum can take our cool Southwestern winters," Leinauer said. "It doesn't look that promising now north of Albuquerque."

The three-day meeting will also provide information about turfgrass management in New Mexico. More than 300 municipal turf specialists, golf course supervisors, greenhouse owners and homeowners from a three-state region are expected to attend the event, which is sponsored by NMSU Extension and the Southwest Turfgrass Association.

The program kicks off with a welcome from Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, followed by updates on conservation, variety trials and salinity research.

The conference will feature more than a dozen presentations on a wide range of turf topics. Speakers will include Extension specialists and guest presenters from Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas.

Registration costs $150 before Oct. 24 and $175 after. Registration includes two lunches, trade show admission and membership in the turfgrass association. A golf tournament will be held Nov. 16 for association members at the Isleta Eagle Golf Course, five miles south of Albuquerque.

The conference will include talks on salts and desert soils management, insect control, sudden oak death, landscape water conservation, plant disease diagnosis and aquatic weed control.

Other discussions will cover cost accounting, turf establishment, weed control and development of Roundup Ready turf. In addition, speakers will focus on athletic field maintenance, reclaimed water strategies, irrigation audits and new bentgrass establishment.

The turfgrass event will also include about 80 product exhibits for sand and gravel, irrigation and chemical products, seed, turf, compost and aquatic supplies.

For more information or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please call (505) 646-5280 in advance. Additional conference information and registration forms are available on NMSU's turfgrass and Extension Web site at http://turf.nmsu.edu.