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Turf Scientist Jim Baird of the University of California at Riverside is attempting to bioengineer a type of grass that needs less water to proliferate.

Baird’s reseach could become big news  for the 40 billion dollar a year industry that helps Americans keep their yards up to snuff.  80% of U.S. homes that have lawns, which doesn’t include apartment complexes, condos, public parks, and other areas not privately owned.

Dr. Baird’s  research involves a combination of grasses (meadow fescue and rye grass) that is not usually used for home lawns.  The two species are crossbred in fields.  Then, the seeds are collected and grown in hydroponic environments, and then, they are replanted in a field where water amounts can be controlled.

The hybrid grass has a deeper root structure than found in normal lawn grass which makes it easily able to reach underground water and rely less on sprinkler systems.  The strains of grass that survive Baird’s tests are likely to remain green year-round.

From an environmental standpoint, this is a bold experiment.  According to Popular Science (May, 2010), Baird’s grass could increase global oxygen production (as well as carbon dioxide storage) and reduce the amount of freshwater used in residential landscaping from a mind-boggling 7 billion gallons per day (though the amount of reduction has not yet been determined).

For a guy like me who fights his lawn on a daily basis, this is interesting news.  I’ll sign up for anything that will give me a great looking yard for less money and less time.   

by John Barker


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