New Mexico State University extension turfgrass specialist Dr. Bernd Leinauer was appointed Wageningen University’s Endowed Chair for Sustainable Turfgrass Management. It’s the first time this special appointment has been made by the Netherlands university.
“Wageningen University is one of the agricultural benchmarks in Europe,” said NMSU College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences dean Rolando Flores. “The fact that Dr. Leinauer was chosen is not only prestigious for him, but for NMSU as a whole. His appointment represents the quality of scientists we have in the College of ACES, and it reflects the important research that is happening here. Dr. Leinauer’s extension program and applied research program are very important for both New Mexico and other parts of the world.”
As part of his five-year, part-time appointment, Leinauer will provide turfgrass research expertise, co-teach courses related to sustainable turfgrass management, and supervise one doctoral student and one or two master of science students. He will spend approximately 50 days per year at Wageningen.
“Wageningen University is arguably the No. 1 agricultural university in the world and definitely the No. 1 agricultural university in Europe,” Leinauer said. “It’s a research university with a sizable Ph.D. program. I am very honored to have been selected for this position when they could have chosen any researcher from anywhere in the world. My appointment is recognition for the work we do here at NMSU. Being invited by Wageningen doesn’t happen every day.”
Students from all over the world study at Wageningen, where courses are taught in English. The university was recently ranked best in the Netherlands for the 12th consecutive year by Keuzegids, the Dutch university information guide.
Originally from Germany, Leinauer said it is important that the person appointed as the endowed chair be knowledgeable about the turfgrass industry in both Europe and the United States.
“They know that I understand how turfgrass is managed in the United States, as well as in Europe,” he said. “Many places in the U.S. are starting to ban pesticides, but Europe is further ahead. And there’s always the challenge that growing turfgrass successfully may not work without pesticides. So having that knowledge was important in their decision-making process.”
Leinauer said the turfgrass industry in the Netherlands has promised to work towards the goal to have all turf areas be free of pesticides by 2020. The endowed chair was established at the university to provide the industry with scientific knowledge regarding sustainable turfgrass management.
The appointment is funded in part by the Netherlands turfgrass industry, including the Dutch Turfgrass Research Foundation, the Royal Dutch Golf Federation, the Dutch Association of Golf Courses and the Dutch Green Keepers Association.
A turfgrass research advisory board will collaborate with Leinauer and help define specific research projects. The board consists of experts from Wageningen University, the business community, the Scandinavian Turfgrass Environment and Research Foundation and the Sports Turf Research Institute from the United Kingdom.