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Turfgrass education, research and information in Australia: history, development and implications
- Loch, D. S., Aldous, D. E., McMaugh, P. E., Colmer, T. D., Martin, P. M., Ford, P. G., Neylan, J. J., Burrup, D. H., Dempsey, F. L.
- Acta horticulturae 2016 no.1122 pp. 9-18
- developed countries, education, environmental science, horticulture, hybrids, imports, industry, lifestyle, research support, scientists, state government, teachers, turf grasses, university research, urbanization, Australia, Europe, North America, Southern Africa
- The modern Australian turfgrass industry developed from the period between World Wars I and II, in response to increasing urbanisation and construction of more sophisticated, higher quality sporting facilities. Its development intensified from the 1960s onwards with selection of the first widely used local varieties and import of new US-bred greens hybrids. This timetable, together with its underlying drivers, is similar to that in other developed countries in North America, Europe and southern Africa. However, supporting turfgrass education and research have developed very differently in Australia. Vocational greenkeeper training started in the 1940s with instructors from the NSW agriculture department, but moved into the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system in the 1950s and has developed from there in all states. University-based training at post-graduate, and now undergraduate, level has become more available in the past 20-30 years, but is still a relatively small component within the overall tertiary education sector for agriculture and environmental science. In Australia, food- and fibre-based industries have been backed by strong, stable government research for over 100 years, in contrast to turfgrass (and lifestyle horticulture generally) where formal research support from state government departments has been limited, sporadic and lacked continuity. University research initiated in the past 20-30 years remains limited but is increasing in response to industry funding. Research into specific turfgrass problems has also been conducted over the past 50-80 years by private industry-funded providers, which have come and gone at regular intervals. Australia lacks a numerically strong nucleus of technically competent scientists and educators to provide independent advice to the turfgrass industry. The implications of this in terms of the quality of information accessed by practitioners are explored.