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UC Riverside’s James West is working to breed a drought-tolerant grass

UC Riverside's James West is working to breed a drought-tolerant grass

Column: Has a UC Riverside researcher created the Holy Grail of drought-tolerant lawns?


Chris Stolzing,

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The University of California, Riverside, has a long history of drought-tolerant grass research.

With the onset of the drought in northern California, UC Riverside’s James West is working to find a way to incorporate a drought-tolerant trait into a single species of grass.

“There’s not a lot of research here in our field, but it’d be nice to have something the same,” said West, chief scientist at the California Energy Technology Center and lead researcher for the UC Riverside Institute for Molecular Discovery. “If I could figure out a way to breed a drought-tolerant grass that can survive the drought here, I’d be happy to see if we could grow it on farms.”

The California Energy Technology Center is a laboratory and research center at UC Riverside. It was established in 2004 and offers researchers access to one of the largest and most diverse scientific research facilities in North America.

The institute is working to improve the nation’s energy and chemical resources through scientific research as well as technology development.

“That’s what we’re working on at the Center,” West said. “It’s all about making use of what we have.”

Since its inception, UC Riverside has been interested in drought-tolerant grasses that could be used in California agriculture, as well as in California and other agricultural regions through the use of commercial lawns.

“We have grasses here that have been used for decades in agriculture. We have those grasses that have been used in agriculture for decades, and we just haven’t had a good way to get the water needed to survive the severe drought that California is going through right now,” said West. “We’re using these grasses to test the things that we can do to make better use of the things we have

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