Major work is underway on the north side of University of Guelph Arboretum lands in preparation for the relocation of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute.
Two plots of former meadowlands on the site, long overgrown, are being scraped clean, reconfigured and joined, with drainage infrastructure and other features being added.
The project is part of the University of Guelph-Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affair Partnership Research Program. Ken Hough is the director of the program and of research facilities management within it.
Hough said the land currently under development will host over a dozen research plots, which are scheduled to be planted next spring if all goes well. The site encompasses about seven hectares of land. The work will continue this winter, weather permitting.
Another portion of the site will house a new office building, replacing the Frost Centre, located east of the new site on the current Turfgrass Institute location.
Heavy machinery has been on the new site since early fall. Hough, along with Wayne Caldwell, interim associate vice-president of research with the OMAFRA-U of G Partnership Research Program, said getting the site ready involves a host of a components, and is far from a simple matter of tilling and planting the land.
The GTI was established in 1987, and is internationally recognized as a centre of excellence in all things related to turfgrass research. Its members study the environmental impacts of pesticides, evaluate numerous grass varieties and seeding methods, and have expertise in sports field construction, among other things.
The institute is home to the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation, the Ontario Golf Superintendents’ Association, and Sports Turf Canada. It is managed by U of G, and is a partnership with OMAFRA.
Its relocation was approved by the university’s board of governors about a year and a half ago.
As yet, there are no solid plans for the redevelopment of the original site lands, although the property will be rolled into the general Guelph Innovation District lands, which envisions a mix of business, educational, and residential components.
Hough said the plans for the new site call for the construction of a new office facility beginning next year. The Frost Centre will remain open until fall 2018.
Along with the research plots, the new location will include an irrigation pond, two storm-water retention ponds and the renovation of three existing structures on the site.