Writer: Kay Ledbetter
COLLEGE STATION – The ScottsMiracle-Gro Facility for Lawn and Garden Research, located at 3100 F&B Road in College Station, officially opened May 3.
The new facility is part of a long-term agreement among ScottsMiracle-Gro, Texas A&M AgriLife and the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“The partnership with ScottsMiracle-Gro greatly increases our capacity to conduct research and educational programs that will benefit our students, the turfgrass industry, turfgrass professionals and the environment,” said Dr. Richard White, Texas A&M turfgrass management scientist, College Station.
White said while bricks and mortar may not make a program, they do make it more efficient and help serve the mission of the department, college, agency and university. The facility will allow more effective and efficient research efforts in the area of water quality, sustainable turf systems, shade tolerance, drought resistance and conservation.
“Our hope is that our relationship and partnership with ScottsMiracle-Gro will continue long into the future with novel inventions for lawns and gardens,” he said.
“Our parks, community gardens, even our own backyards provide an instant connection to nature and improve our lives in countless ways,” said Dr. Mark Slavens, ScottsMiracle-Gro vice president of environmental affairs and lawns research and development, Columbus, Ohio. “It’s critically important that consumers can sustain their living landscapes in ways that conserve and protect water resources, especially for those in areas that face lasting drought.
“The research conducted at Texas A&M improves and expands our knowledge about the best ways to design consumer product solutions and in turn ensure our green spaces are as good for the environment as they are beautiful,” Slavens said.
Texas A&M AgriLife, the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and ScottsMiracle-Gro first announced a five-year agreement in 2010. At that time, the company pledged more than $750,000 to provide support for the construction of a new facility for turfgrass education and research on F&B Road and $750,000 to support research.
“Partnerships like this one with ScottsMiracle-Gro are helping students across the Texas A&M University System in a variety of ways by providing access to practical applications and by helping to make sure we can focus more public dollars on education,” Chancellor John Sharp said. “We hope we can find other forward-thinking companies to further improve our system.”
Dave Swihart, ScottsMiracle-Gro senior vice president of research and development in Ohio, said over the last several years, Scotts committed to enhance their research through Texas A&M by funding two students and supporting two associates to participate in the Texas AgriLife Lifetime Leadership program.They also worked with Texas A&M AgriLife on the research and technical refinement of products such as the Scotts EZ Patch Lawn Repair for St. Augustine grass.
Scotts has also worked with researchers on numerous experiments and trials for fire ant control technologies, enhanced genetics and variety development of St. Augustine grass, Swihart said. Additionally, they have done a significant amount of work with turfgrass fertility and weed herbicide research of southern weeds and lawns.
“In all, we’ve had more than a $1 million invested with the Texas A&M AgriLife turfgrass program here,” he said.
“Our partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife has been (a) strong success for both parties involved,” Swihart said. “In the future we will continue to invest in research with AgriLife with a focus on the efficacy and performance of products for Texas.”
This journey started about 15 years ago with a shared vision on how to use the space, White said. This research facility significantly improves Texas A&M’s ability to address a wide range of issues and challenges in the turfgrass industry.
He said it would allow the continuation and improvement of high impact learning for undergraduate students with the ability to carry out programs in close proximity to outdoor labs.
“Ultimately, our goal is to create new information to make lawns and landscapes more sustainable,” White said. “With this new facility, we will be able to be more effective and efficient in extending our programs and research to turfgrass practitioners and Texas citizens.”