Thousands Of Dollars In Damage After Storms Rip Through Turfgrass Research Field

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Thunderstorms that moved through the area Monday (July 16) producing heavy rain and wind left extensive damage to a turfgrass research field at the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Bent steel and jumbled plastic are all that's left of two of four turfgrass research structures, also called hoop houses.

They look similar to a greenhouse, and are used to limit water supply to study samples of turfgrass being researched by students and professors of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Heavy winds picked up a third hoophouse off the ground and carried it about 75 yards where it landed against a tree. The fourth remained in place, but its plastic roofing was ripped off.

Michael Richardson, a horticulture professor at the University of Arkansas said their work affects nearly everyone.

"Whether it's in their lawns or on the athletic fields where their kids play or the golf course or wherever," Richardson said.

It could take a few months to get things back up and running, after dealing with insurance and building new research structures. The turf science area was originally scheduled to host a field day next week, but that has since been canceled.

Graduate student, Tyler Carr, has spent quite a bit of time studying on the nearly 12 acres, with the majority of his research focusing on drought stress and water use.

"If we can find grasses that use less water, we can break that stigma that turf grasses are great water users," Carr said.

The damage won't affect him finishing his degree, but most of the data he has spent collecting is lost for the year.

"Next year we'll be 100 percent, but some of these trials may be done for the season," Carr said.