Research Programme


The golf and turfgrass industry, like other land-based industries, has to take responsibility for sustainable societal development, i.e. it must produce golf courses and other turfgrass areas of a high standard while at the same time ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources and contributing to functioning ecosystems.

The aim of STERF is to support R&D that can help the golf industry to fulfil these ambitions. The activities of STERF are intended to lead to improvements in the quality of golf courses, as well as economic and environmental gains for the industry and society as a whole. The strategic objectives for STERF-funded R&D activities are that:

  • The design, construction, management and administration of golf courses provide optimal conditions for playing quality, degree of utilisation of the course and management inputs.

  • The design, construction, management and administration of golf courses are economically and environmentally sustainable, for example with respect to plant nutrient requirements, water and energy use, drainage and control of weeds and plant diseases.

  • Golf courses contribute to production of biological diversity, the conservation of natural and cultural environments and the retention and expansion of ecosystem services, and to improving the conditions for good quality of life and health, e.g. through providing a broader active outdoor life, experiences of nature and better climate adaptation in the everyday landscape.



It is apparent that the golf and turfgrass industry faces a number of local and international challenges, all of which will need concerted and collective solutions, underpinned by robust, applied science. To meet the challenges the sector has to face, STERF has created four international and trans-disciplinary R&D sub-programmes:

  • Integrated pest management
  • Sustainable water management
  • Turfgrass winter stress management
  • Multifunctional use of golf facilities and ecosystem services.

Progress in these programme areas will collectively lead to improvements in the quality of managed turfgrass areas, as well as economic and environmental gains for the industry. The key objectives of the programmes are to coordinate the design and running of R&D activities and to manage the effective dissemination of outputs (new knowledge) through channels and formats which are easily accessible to end-users. STERF will play a key role in expanding the programmes on international level.

Integrated pest management

New regulations at national and international level relating to the turfgrass industry are becoming more demanding. A good example is the EU Directive on Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which includes strategies for integrated pest management (IPM). STERF, together with the Nordic park and golf sector, universities, research institutions and authorities, takes responsibility for ensuring that R&D activities important for IPM are coordinated and executed and that new knowledge is delivered.

Sustainable water management

Water is essential to secure the future of the turf industry and the livelihoods of many rural communities that depend upon it. Working with industry and leading research institutes, STERF’s goal is to provide science-based information to practitioners and stakeholders on integrated water management in turf. This will improve management practices relating to both irrigation and drainage systems, help protect environmental water quality and support the industry in adapting to the effects of future changes in rainfall and climate variability on water resources.

Turfgrass winter stress management

Winter damage is the foremost reason for dead grass, reducing the aesthetic and functional value of turf. UN-IPCC climate scenarios predict that, due to high precipitation and unstable temperature, ice and water damage will become the most important cause of winter damage in the future. This is a complex but high priority area for STERF, as it has been estimated that about 70% of Nordic golf courses suffer from winter damage each year and that the associated average annual costs per golf course are €35 000-40 000. STERF will take responsibility for developing strategic expertise and new knowledge to avoid and manage such damage.

Multifunctional use of golf facilities and ecosystem services

Multifunctional golf courses can contribute to increased biological diversity, conservation of na¬tural and cultural environments, and retention and expansion of ecosystem services, and can help to improve people’s health and quality of life by providing facilities for active outdoor recreation.

Through STERF´s R&D programme within multifunctional facilities, the societal benefits of golf can be improved and the Nordic area can become a model region as regards multifunctional golf courses and collaborations between different interests in society. Four central research and development areas have been identified: (1) The everyday landscape and peri-urban nature, (2) Nature and culture, (3) Dialogue and cooperation, and (4) Business promotion