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NMSU turf specialist wins national crop science award


New Mexico State University Regents professor and turfgrass Extension specialist Bernd Leinauer has received an award from the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) for outstanding contributions to crop science through education, national and international service and research, NMSU said in a news release.

A professor in the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Leinauer was recognized for significant career contributions in turfgrass science during the last 15 years.

“I consider this award as the highlight of my academic career,” Leinauer said. “The award is the highest national research award given by our society. It rewards the efforts our team has put in over 20 years and recognizes the standing we have received nationally and internationally on the topic of turfgrass water conservation.”

The award, which Leinauer will accept at a ceremony in November, includes a $2,000 prize.

Some of the contributions that were evaluated by CSSA for this award include significance and originality of basic and/or applied research; planning and implementation of extension programs; administrative ability and effectiveness; and total impact of contributions of turfgrass science, nationally and internationally.

Leinauer added that the award recognizes the work of his team and is not just the result of his accomplishments.

“While awards are usually given to individuals, it takes a team of graduate students, post-docs, and collaborators to work on projects which lead to publications, presentations, Extension activities, all of which ultimately result in such an award,” he said.

“Our research efforts have the overarching goal to find approaches that conserve water in an arid/semi-arid environment without losing aesthetic appeal, functionality or quality of the turfgrass areas,” Leinauer told the Bulletin. “We are addressing the problem by adjusting or changing maintenance practices and not the turfgrass plant itself. Our investigations have shown that water use can be reduced significantly by changing/maintaining a poorly functioning and/or improperly installed irrigation system. Moreover, people growing turfgrass have very little understanding as to how much or how little water is required to grow grass.  Most turfgrass areas are completely overwatered and the perception exists that this is the amount of water turfgrass needs.”

Leinauer has a Ph.D. in crop production and grassland science from Hohenheim University in Stuttgart, Germany. He has been with NMSU since March 2000, and holds a 2009 patent for a subsurface drip installer.

Leinauer has spoken at international meetings in the Netherlands, Germany, Holland, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Russia, China, Italy, Denmark, Portugal, France, South Korea, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. His topics have included “Water Management on Golf Courses,” “Integrated Pest Management,” “Turfgrass Selection to Minimize Water Use Efficiency,” “Managing Turf Stress,” “Irrigation Technologies and Water Management,” “The Future of Putting Green Construction” and “A New Species for Turf.

Leinauer is a member of the European Turfgrass Society, the German Turf Council, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Greenkeeper Association of Germany, International Turfgrass Society, New Mexico Extension Specialists Association, Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents Association, Southwest Turfgrass Association, Sports Turf Managers Association and the United States Golf Association.”

Visit www.crops.org/awards/view.