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Statewide Turfgrass Impact Survey Underway

Green grass puts green in the state’s coffers, but the question is “how much?”

Researchers with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture intend to profile Tennessee’s turfgrass industry and measure its economic importance through an online survey.

Jim Brosnan, Ph.D., a UTIA plant scientist, says an accurate measure of the value of the industry is needed. “Turf affects everyone across the state, and we need to capture a more complete sense of its value,” he said. “No one has measured the industry’s breadth and impact since the mid 1990s, when the industry’s impact was listed as $868.1 million. We expect to see a dramatic increase in the value of the state’s green spaces,” he said.

Brosnan is co-director of the UT Center for Athletic Field Safety and studies the intricacies of turfgrass production and utilization especially for lawns and sports fields. He says the information garnered from the survey will be helpful for city planners, elected officials, recreation managers and even homeowners in understanding the diversity and economic impact of turfgrass in Tennessee. “Turfgrass is more than aesthetically pleasing. It has value in terms of labor, capital expenditures and even municipal and personal property development,” he said.

The study defines turfgrass as “a contiguous community of grasses, tolerant of traffic and defoliation from mowing a minimum of two times per year, which is grown and maintained to improve the aesthetic and functional quality of landscapes and utility areas.” That includes personal lawns, sports fields, golf courses, playgrounds, cemeteries and just about any grassy area in a parking lot.

To calculate the economic impact of Tennessee’s turfgrass industry, Brosnan and a team of researchers need estimates of the industry’s revenues, expenses and employment rate from survey participants across the state. That’s where volunteers come into play. “We need broad participation across the state from turf businesses as well as turf users,” he said.

The researchers invite managers of grassy areas of all kinds to invest approximately 15 minutes and complete the on-line survey to help estimate the value of the industry across the state.

“Whether you’re a homeowner, golf course manager, church deacon or professional landscaper, we ask that the person most responsible for turfgrass production or use decisions for a specific area complete the on-line survey. Widespread participation is extremely important if we are to gain an accurate understanding of the industry’s value and reach,” he said.

The information provided will be strictly confidential and only reported in summary form.

Support for this study has been provided by the Tennessee Turfgrass Association, MidSouth Turfgrass Council, the Tennessee Chapter of the GCSAA, the Tennessee Nursery & Landscape Association, Inc., and UT Department of Plant Sciences.

The survey is available online at and Brosnan says the link will remain open through January 31, 2015.

Survey results are expected to be announced early in 2015.

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