The Plant Science Research and Extension Farm, often referred to as the Adelphia Farm, is a 206-acre facility that has been owned by NJAES/Rutgers University since 1962. It was originally an active dairy farm. In 1965, the first agricultural field day was held at this farm for the Agriculture Community hosted by the Soils and Crop department of Cook College/NJAES. At that time, they had large programs in cereal crops, forages, soybeans, corn, weed science and soil fertility.
During the 1980’s the turfgrass breeding program started to expand under the direction of Dr. C. Reed Funk. As the farmland in the area began to be used for housing the need for better turf was growing. The Adelphia farm was the ideal site to develop more drought, heat, and pest resistant cultivars of cool-season grasses. The landmark cultivars Manhattan perennial ryegrass as well as Adelphi, America and Midnight Kentucky bluegrasses were developed at Adelphia. This program was recognized from its inception as a very productive and leading program. In 1996 Dr. William Meyer became the director of Turfgrass Breeding at Rutgers. Under his leadership, this program has evolved into the leading turfgrass breeding program in the world. It also maintains the largest germplasm pool of cool-season turfgrasses available for breeding.
At the Adelphia farm there are currently over 36,000 individual turf plots under evaluation. Over 25 acres are used each year for spaced-plant nurseries for seed production and clonal germplasm evaluation. Since the inception of the Rutgers Turfgrass Breeding Program, over 500 improved cultivars have been developed and marketed in cooperation with the seed industry.
At Adelphia, there is now an extensive breeding and evaluation program for bioenergy grasses, comprised mostly of switchgrass, directed by Dr. Stacy Bonos. She is also evaluating Miscanthus as a bioenergy crop. Another exciting program conducted by Dr. Bonos is the development of cool-season grasses with improved salinity tolerance. In the past eight years new emphasis has been placed on developing turfgrasses that require less water, fertilization, and mowing. These low input sustainable turfgrasses are in strong demand. Dr. James Murphy is currently conducting turf management and weed science research and Dr. Bruce Clarke conducts turf disease control research at the Adelphia farm. When Dr. Funk retired as a turfgrass breeder in 1996, he started a program of evaluating nut tree species as a new crop for New Jersey. Dr. Tom Molnar has continued this program and has planted over 10,000 nut trees at Adelphia. He has also taken over the Dogwood and Holly breeding programs.
In 1991 Rutgers started the Center for Turfgrass Science at Rutgers. Dr. Bruce B. Clarke became Center Director in 1993. Currently, there are over 10 full time faculty working in turf at Rutgers with an additional 14 faculty partially involved in turfgrass research, teaching and outreach. The Turf Center also manages a 30-acre farm in North Brunswick dedicated to studying fine textured turf for use on golf courses and athletic fields. There are over 12,000 turf plots planted at Hort Farm II. All of the Center faculty and staff work closely with the turfgrass breeding program and have been a big part of its success.
The Center for Turfgrass Science in cooperation with the New Jersey turfgrass industry holds a field day for stakeholders each year at the Adelphia and North Brunswick research farms that attract over 750 turfgrass managers from throughout the United States and Canada. The Center has developed a close partnership with the turfgrass industry and takes great pride in developing practical, science-based solutions to turfgrass problems.