Article by Stacey Stearns Contact Jason Henderson, Associate Professor, Storrs, CT jason.henderson@uconn. edu 860-486-0189 Victoria Wallace, Associate Extension Educator, New London County Extension Center victoria.wallace@uconn. edu 860-885-2826 Turfgrass is often overlooked by residents­ —but is one of the most abundant crops in the state, and an important part of Connecticut’s economic engine. Direct sales from the turfgrass industry are around $2.5 billion, with a total economic impact of $2.9 billion. Lawn care services are the largest turfgrass sector in the state, followed by golf courses, and lawn care retailing1 . UConn’s turfgrass team includes Vickie Wallace from the Department of Extension and Karl Guillard, Jason Henderson, John Inguagiato, Ana Legrand, Tom Morris, and Steve Rackliffe from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. A multi- faceted approach to current turfgrass issues is part of their overall goal of improving sustainability, reducing inputs, and addressing restrictions. There is no one size fits all model for turfgrass management. The unique challenges associated with managing athletic fields are very different from man- aging golf courses or lawns at private homes. Various uses, along with the intense wear turfgrass receives dictate best management practices. Further com- plicating the situation is the variety of information regarding pesticide-free and/or organic management available to turf managers, much of it anecdotal, and not science-based. In 2010, the state banned all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered lawn care pesti- cides on athletic fields at public and private schools with pre-kindergarten through 8th grade students. Connecticut and New York are the only states in the country with the pesticide ban. Research and outreach education done by UConn’s team is critically impor- tant, and on a national stage. “The concern regarding this restrictive legislation goes well beyond aesthetics and can negatively impact playing surface safety,” Associate Professor Jason Henderson mentions. “We need to keep fields safe for use—and to reach that goal, controlling insects and weeds is important. Misinformation also increases risks of nitrogen and phosphorus overuse becoming an environmental issue.” Educational programming designed by Extension faculty is multifaceted, utilizing research and dem- onstration to address misinformation, and providing turfgrass managers with science-based solutions and best management practices. The EPA and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Tackling Turfgrass 22 2016 HIGHLIGHTS OF EXTENSION