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Factors Influencing the Purchase of Low-Input Turfgrasses in the US

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posted on 2022-07-26, 12:57 authored by Sanchez PhiloclesSanchez Philocles

  

Kentucky bluegrass is the most common cool-season turfgrass grown in the northern US.
The fact that Kentucky bluegrass requires s high quantity of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation to produce high quality turf has led to environmental concerns among policymakers, researchers, and consumers. To address this concern, turfgrass breeders have developed improved cultivars of low-input turfgrass species that aim to improve the sustainability of US lawns (Ghimire et al., 2019). For instance, tall fescue [(Festuca arundinacea Schreb.; syn. Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., nom. cons.] and fine fescues (Festuca spp.) may represent viable options for residential and commercial buildings due to their outstanding performance under lower amounts of inputs such as irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers (Watkins et al., 2011). Thus, adopting improved cultivars of low-input species may be a step towards reducing the use of inputs in landscapes (Simmons et al., 2011; Pooya et al., 2013). Yet, the production of low-input turfgrasses in the northern US is slow and limited, which leads to marketing and education obstacles that support their adoption. Thus, understanding factors that influence sod buyers to purchase low-input turfgrasses is imperative to increase the market share and the adoption of these turfgrasses. 

This study investigated the factors influencing sod buyers to purchase low-input turfgrass in the northern US, using tall fescue and fine fescue as low-input sod species. Using a logistic regression model, we assessed the determinants of low-input turfgrass purchase among sod buyers (i.e., athletic facilities, landscape contractors, garden centers, general contractors, lawn care, golf courses, and municipal parks). The logit model assumed the adoption decision to be driven by the buyers’ perception of the utility of buying low-input turfgrass species. Thus, the dependent binary variable Y equals 1 if the firm purchased tall or fine fescue in 2020, and 0 otherwise. The adoption is then expressed as a function of determinants, including the firm’s characteristics, supplier characteristics, sod attributes, and buyer’s perceptions. 

Data for this study came from a 2021 web-based survey of sod buyers located in 19 states of the Northern US. A total of 200 buyers completed the survey, including landscape contractors, golf courses, general contractors, lawn care services, and landscape maintenance firms who have purchased sod in 2020. The significant mean comparisons between adopters and non-adopters showed that adopters of low-input turfgrasses purchased most of their sod through contract agreements. The main suppliers of adopters were located at a closer distance to on-site delivery than the non-adopters. The logit regression results showed that low-input turfgrass adoption was positively influenced by the number of sod suppliers and managerial experience of the sod buyer. Landscapers were more likely to purchase tall fescue and fine fescue compared to golf courses and municipal parks. We found that distance from sod supplier to on-site delivery negatively impacted the purchase of low-input turfgrasses. Similarly, Kentucky bluegrass buyers were less likely to purchase low-input turfgrass species.

Funding

Specialty Crops Block Grant

History

Degree Type

  • Master of Science

Department

  • Horticulture

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ariana Torres

Additional Committee Member 2

Aaron Patton

Additional Committee Member 3

Eric Watkins

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