Auburn University is joining forces with the world’s leading sports turf consultancy to initiate research and development programs throughout the U.S. sports surface market.
The agreement with the STRI Group will focus primarily on expanding the U.S. soccer industry, as well as conducting surfaces research in other sports including golf, football, baseball and equestrian.
The collaboration aims to further enhance Auburn’s existing turfgrass and sports turf research facility, helping it become a center of excellence for innovations and emerging technologies in sports turf. Auburn will showcase cutting-edge techniques and technologies such as grow-lights, water management and reinforced turf systems.
Initial research through the partnership will include the use of specialized stadium lighting systems to drive photosynthesis for turf areas not receiving direct sunlight. Auburn researchers will also experiment with new STRI technology designed to capture and store water beneath sports surfaces, releasing it during periods of drought.
“Working with STRI is a great opportunity to not only grow our research program at Auburn, but to also greatly enhance the educational content, internship experiences and job opportunities for our students,” said Scott McElroy, a professor in the College of Agriculture’s Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department.
Over the past five years, STRI has reinforced its position as a market leader in the sports surface industry. With its collaboration with Auburn, STRI secures a permanent presence on four continents, with further significant investments being made at its facilities in Australia, the United Kingdom and Qatar.
“STRI is thrilled to collaborate with such a forward thinking and well-respected university,” said Lee Penrose, STRI Group Director. “Together, our organizations will create the leading sports turf facility in the U.S., demonstrating the latest in international thinking.”
College of Agriculture research faculty collaborating with STRI include McElroy as well as Beth Guertal and Dave Han of the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences and David Held of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.