When we are watching a football game, we hardly notice the flawlessly colored and cut grass the players trample over and over, much less do we think about the grueling hours spent on making that turf free of any imperfections. Never would I have thought that there would be entire research facilities dedicated to making turfgrass upkeep more eco-friendly and less labor-intensive. That is until last Monday, when my classmates and I were completely blindsided by a surprise field trip to the Virginia Tech Turfgrass Research Center planned by Dr. David Haak.
During the course of this trip, we learned of all of the technologies they were developing in order to find a happy medium between convenience and sustainability. Dr. Haak and his colleagues showed us two drones in the early stages of development. One small white one, used for imaging, and one huge one with a giant tank attached to the bottom, used to spray substances such as fertilizer and “plant medicine”. We were taught the importance of precision when administering these substances to fields as large as the ones we see on TV so as to not use more product than needed. Although these drones were far from finished, they were still able to perform impressive tricks like navigating the field without the help of their handlers and sending streams of water down towards the class from 20 feet in the air. So, next time you are watching your favorite sports team on television, instead of rooting for the players, root for the scientists behind the ground they are playing on.