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Turf Research

Current Research Projects

Australian Sports Turf Consultants (ASTC) provide independent turf research with a focus on warm-season turf grasses to meet the needs of the turf industry and end user within Australia and overseas. ASTC Director Matt Roche has been project leader of numerous scientific and practical studies benefiting the wider turfgrass industry and general public.

New Frontier® Soft Leaf Buffalo

Australian Sports Turf Consultants (ASTC) has been appointed as Principal Turf Consultant by New Frontier Brands Pty Ltd to lead and implement a Research and Development and quality control program for the (Stenotaphrum secundatum (buffalograss / St Augustinegrass) turfgrass New Frontier® in Australia and overseas. New Frontier® is protected in Australia and the United States of America as 'TBLL'. More information will be available shortly.

An article on New Frontier and it's development can be accessed below.

• Article - New Frontier - reaching out to the future, TurfCraft, Issue 159_Nov-Dec 2014, pp. 26,28 (PDF, 2.3MB).

A New Frontier® trial plot being harvested 14 July 2014 following the planting of plugs only at 1 meter spacings 8 October 2013. Turf cover was achieved in 9 months using only plugs. Coverage would have been much quicker using sprigs.

Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) Testing

Under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act (1994) owners who register their new plant variety with IP Australia are provided 20* years of protection. Prior to registering a variety for PBR many procedures need to be followed. To assist individuals or companies within Australia or overseas wanting to register for PBR they need to appoint a nominated Qualified Person (QP) to establish, conduct and report on a comparative growing trial to demonstrate their new (candidate) variety is Distinct, Uniform and Stable (DUS) against known or commercial varieties (varieties of common knowledge (VCK). ASTC  is well positioned to access VCK's having ownership of Australia's Warm-Season Turf Collection. ASTC's QP, Matthew Roche, is registered with IP Australia and is capable of undertaking these services for you.  ASTC is currently registered to undertake Plant Breeder's Right trials or related QP services of the following plant group/species/family:

  • Warm-season turf species, including but not limited to:
    • Green couch (Cynodon dactylon) and hybrids (C. dactylon x C. transvaalensis)
    • Blue couch (Digitaria didactyla)
    • Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum)
    • Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum)
    • Marine couch (Sporobolus virginicus)
    • Buffalo grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum)
    • Zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.)
  • Christmas bush (Metrosiderous collina)
  • Leucaena (Leucaena pallida x L. leucocephala spp.)
  • Other ornamental or horticultural crops. Please contact us to discuss further.

For additional information on PBR testing click here or to see a list of our completed PBR trials please refer to the bottom of this page.

ASTC is currently undertaking the following PBR works:

  • 1 male sterile kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) variety for a NSW turf production company.
  • 1 Cynodon hybrid (C. dactylon x C. transvallensis) variety for Indooroopilly Golf Club.
  • 3 wheat (Triticum aestivum) varieties for The University of Queensland.
  • 2 varieties of Christmas Bush (Metrosiderous collina) for Waterworth's Nursery.
  • 1 variegated form of buffalograss (Stenotaphrum secundatum) for a private client.

DNA Testing

ASTC has signed a Research Agreement with The University of Queensland's (UQ) main commercialisation company UniQuest to deliver a reputable DNA testing service for the wider Australian turfgrass industry. The venture is to make available DNA testing of turfgrasses through ASTC to: identify genetic variation of turfgrasses; help turf managers or venue hirers verify contamination (e.g. morphological-agronomic variation) present within their sports turf surface; and play a role within the turf certification programs here in Australia. This includes the testing of DNA certified turf, including Lawns Solutions Australia's (LSA) 'Sir Walter DNA Certified'. Visit our Analytical page to find out more.


DNA testing is useful for:

  • Identification of contamination within high profile venues.
  • DNA profiling for added security off IP.
  • Genetic comparison of new and commercial turfgrasses before commencing PBR trial work. 

Completed Research Projects

Australian Sports Turf Consultants (ASTC) has recently completed the following research projects for Australian clients.

Ryegrass germination within OZ TUFF

OZ TUFF green couch has a dense prostrate growth habit, limited inflorescence production and recent studies have shown the variety possesses greater wear tolerance, desirable for sportsfield usage. Since the release of OZ TUFF in 2006, the turf variety has received criticism to be too thatchy.

Recently, turf managers have found it difficult to oversow ryegrass and achieve successful germination and establishment within a higher thatching turfgrass like OZ TUFF. To investigate, OZ TUFF Pty Ltd contracted ASTC to conduct a 12 week research study trialling varied oversowing techniques currently used by turf managers and independently measure the outcome.

A summary of the OZ TUFF findings included:

  • Thatch is largely misunderstood by the majority of turfgrass managers.
  • Thatch is a normal component of actively growing turfgrass and beneficial levels of thatch can actually increase the resilience of the turf to heavy traffic (e.g. sports field usage).
  • Download Article 1 of 2 (PDF, 2MB).
  • Download Article 2 of 2 (PDF, 3.6MB).

Tropical Turfgrass Project

Establishing and maintaining grassed areas in urban open space is a major cost to local authorities. These situations range from sportsfields and recreational areas through to commercial sites and roadsides. Each of these has their own set of requirements, peculiarities and limitations as regards to the choice of a suitable turfgrass.

A two-year Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) study (Project Code – TU9001) was conducted with trial sites being established in Darwin, Northern Territory and Mackay, Queensland in 2011 to determine how well a range of different warm-season turfgrasses were adapted to different tropical environments.

The TU09001 Tropical Turfgrass Project findings:

Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) Testing

To date ASTC’s Qualified Person (QP) has trialled and successfully registered 28 varieties of plants with the Plant Breeder’s Rights Office (PBRO) within IP Australia. This includes 26 varieties of ornamental warm-season turfgrass, 1 Leucaena variety and 1 variety of Rhodes grass.

See the full list here.

PBR logo




Since 2012 ASTC has completed the following PBR trials:

  • Two varieties of Zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.) for The University of Florida.
  • The buffalograss (Stenotaphrum secundatum) variety ‘TBLL’ (New Frontier) for the now New Frontier Brands Pty Ltd.
  • Three green couch (Cynodon dactylon) turf varieties ('UQ-490', 'UQ-539' & 'UQ-545) for UniQuest and the QLD Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).
  • The Leucaena (Leucaena pallida x Leucaena leucocephala spp.) variety 'BL-12' for The University of Queensland and Meat & Livestock Australia Limited.