Eric M. Lyons

Eric M. Lyons
Associate Professor
acting Associate Dean – Research and Graduate Studies



519-824-4120 x52232


B.Sc. University of Northern Iowa;
Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University


Edmund C. Bovey Building


1230 ECB

Research in our lab is a multidisciplinary approach to improving stress physiology of economically important plant species and management of different turfgrass systems to reduce inputs and maximize the environmental, social and economic benefit of turfgrass systems.  There are four primary areas of research in our lab:

Improving Stress Physiology of Economically Important Plant Species

Our research in this area focuses on nutrient stress, drought tolerance and winter survival of plants.  The research attempts to understand the signal transduction pathways involved in acclimation and de-acclimation to different external stimuli and how plants can be manipulated through nutrient status or through altering hormone signaling within the plants.  In addition root morphological changes in response to drought and nutrient stress are also examined.

Plant Competition and Species Composition of Perennial Plant Ecosystems

This research focuses on how different factors such as, wear, disturbance, seed dynamics, root growth dynamics and nutrient availability affect the presence of different species within a perennial plant system.  Overseeding, or the introduction of a desirable species into an existing stand, is a common practice in a number of plant systems including athletic fields and golf course putting greens.  Our research studies how seed introduction of different species impacts the final species composition of the stand and how it affects the seed bank dynamics.  In addition we study how nutrient availability affects rooting and root competition for resources of both phosphorus and nitrogen.  The acquisition of nutrients and water by root systems is an important factor in determining the final plant composition of an ecosystem.

Management of Sports Fields without traditional pesticides

This applied research examines the different aspects of how to better manage community sports fields in wake of provincial and community restrictions on traditional agricultural chemistries.  The work focuses includes studies into the impact of weeds on sports field safety and how to maximize limited resources to achieve the safest possible sports fields for community use.

Innovation of New Technologies for the Turfgrass Industry

Our research lab works closely with a number of companies to bring new and innovative products.  Our research helps improve technologies making them more accessible to turfgrass managers.  In addition we act as an independent lab testing products for registration and labeling purposes.  In addition to working with companies our research lab also partners with a number of other researcher groups to create applications within the turfgrass industries for their innovations and discoveries.

For more information about our research lab and the people that make it all happen please check out the Canadian Turfgrass Innovation Centre (CTIC) web page and the Guelph Turfgrass Institute (GTI) web page.


Education and Training: Courses I Teach

Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management

The university of Guelph is a leader for turfgrass management in Canada and throughout the world.  The associate diploma in turfgrass management is a two year applied program catering to a number of careers in turfgrass management including, golf course superintendents, municipal parks/grounds managers, and landscape management.  

DTM*3000 - Turf Management II

DTM*4300 – Turf Case Studies

Crop, Horticulture, and Turfgrass Science, Plant Science Majors

HORT*2450 – Introduction to Turfgrass Science

Graduate Teaching

PLNT*6400 - Seminar

I have served as the faculty facilitator for this course where graduate students present their research proposal to the department.

PLNT*6230 – Colloquium in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry

This colloquium is offered on a rotational basis based on topic and when I teach this colloquium the focus is on methods in root biology and root research.

Graduate Student Advising

A number of graduate students work on a number of projects within the lab. I am an advocate of multidisciplinary approaches to science so a number of my students are co-advised. Students are encouraged to work independently and learn both science and project management skills. Many opportunities exist to facilitate graduate positions including scholarship programs and industry collaborations and students are encouraged to explore these opportunities.

Outreach and Other Training Courses

Turfgrass Managers Short Course (

The turfgrass manager’s short course is an intensive 4-week course in turfgrass management. I teach turfgrass management focusing on mowing fertility and irrigation philosophy. The focus of my tie with the student concentrates on not only mastery of the material but on improving critical thinking and problem solving skills of the participants.

Sports Turf Management and Maintenance Course (

This three and a half day program serves as a base education and review for all levels of sports turf managers. The course content was designed by experienced sports turf managers to assure it teaches what the job requires and we then refined the course through the input of course participants  create the best learning experience for the participants.

Ontario Turfgrass Symposium

The Ontario turfgrass symposium is an annual turfgrass education conference that caters to all segments of the turfgrass industry.  The education is research based and brings in turfgrass scientists from the University of Guelph and throughout North America to communicate the latest information to turfgrass managers.

High School Liaison Activities

The Department of Plant Agriculture and the OAC are committed to plant science education in both basic and applied fields.  Our department is actively involved in hosting high school students on campus and creating fun interesting interactive lesson plans that will help students gain interest in the plant sciences and begin to train the next generation of leaders in the area of plant production systems and plant sciences.

For more information about OAC liaison activities contact:

   Karen Nelson
   Ontario Agricultural College Liaison Officer

For more information about developing or sharing plant science lesson plans please contact either Karen Nelson or myself at


Toronto Blue Jays Natural Turfgrass Project divider





CBC Radio: Can you actually grow grass inside the Rogers Centre?

April 01, 2016
...the Toronto Blue Jays will begin another season's quest to reach the World Series.  But for several years, they've also been on another quest: trying to figure out how to get rid of the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre ...

SportsNet: Inside the Blue Jays’ push for natural grass

March 19, 2015
Colby Rasmus says it shortened his career. Brett Lawrie was happy to escape it. Andre Dawson, the Montreal Expos great who played so many games on aching knees, said simply: “good riddance.” Artificial turf doesn’t have a lot of fans left in Major League Baseball...


Real Agriculture: What Will it Take to Grow Grass for the Blue Jays in Rogers Centre?

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 26-year-old home is one of only two stadiums left in Major League Baseball where the game is played on artificial turf...


U of G to Help Blue Jays Bring Natural Grass to Rogers Centre

– News Release, University of Guelph
The University of Guelph and Toronto Blue Jays will collaborate on a research project to grow a natural turfgrass field in the Rogers Centre...


CBC News: Blue Jays want natural grass, ask Guelph's Eric Lyons for help

The Toronto Blue Jays want to know if it is possible to install natural grass at Rogers Centre for 2018, something the stadium was never designed for...


TSN 690: Lyons: Synthetic turf tough on athletes' legs

University of Guelph Professor Eric M. Lyons joins Melnick in the Afternoon to discuss the difference between synthetic turf and real grass playing surfaces...


Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Grass aspirations for Rogers Centre

Eric Lyons, associate professor of turfgrass science at the University of Guelph’s Department of Plant Agriculture, joins The Jeff Blair Show to discuss being commissioned by the Toronto Blue Jays to conduct a year-long feasibility study regarding growing turfgrass at the Rogers Centre...


National Post: Toronto Blue Jays to pay University of Guelph $600,000 to study turfgrass species for Rogers Centre

The Toronto Blue Jays are paying $600,000 for the University of Guelph to conduct a year-long feasibility study into the prospects of growing turfgrass under the dome of the Rogers Centre...


The Toronto Star: Blue Jays pave way for grass at the Rogers Centre

Preparations have already begun to make the highly anticipated transition to a natural grass field in time for the start of the 2018 MLB season...


"They say the grass is always greener... Find out Why!"

Discovery Channel Daily Planet - Eric Lyons interview



DTM*3000 Turf Management II
DTM*4000 Turf Management III
HORT*2450 Introduction to Turfgrass Science
HORT*4200 Plants, Environment and Society
PBIO*3120 Plant Physiology

Relevant Links:

Selected Publications:

Lyons, E.M., K.S. Jordan, I.T. James, D.M. Hudner and D. McGowan. (2012). Irrigation frequency influences establishment of slivery thread moss (Bryum argenteum Hedw.) and rooting of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) on simulated golf greens. Acta Agricuturae Scandinavica, Section B  Plant Soil Science. In Press.

Watson, J., F. Hebert, E.M. Lyons, T. Blom and K.S. Jordan. (2012). Velvet bentgrass growth, rooting and quality with different root zone media and fertility regimes. Hortscience. 47: 205-211.

Lyons, E.M., P. Landschoot and D. Huff. (2011). Root Distribution and tiller densities of creeping bentgrass cultivars and greens-type annual bluegrass cultivars in a putting green. HortScience. 46: 1411-1417.

Gaudin, A., S. McClymont, B. Holmes, E. Lyons and M. Raizada. (2011). Novel temporal, fine-scale and growth variation phenotypes in roots of adult-stage maize (Zea mays L.) in response to low nitrogen stress. Plant, Cell and Environment. 34: 2122-2137.

Lyons, E.M., K. Jordan, K. Carey. (2009). Use of wetting agents to relieve hydrophobicity in sand rootzone putting greens. International Turfgrass Society Research Journal. 11: 1131-1138.

Lyons, E.M., R.S. Snyder and J.P. Lynch. (2008). Regulation of root distribution and depth by phosphorus localization in Agrostis stolonifera. HortScience. 43: 2203-2209.

Elford, E.M.A., F. Tardif, D. Robinson and E.M. Lyons. (2008). The Effect of Perennial Ryegrass Overseeding on Weed Suppression and Sward Composition. Weed Technology. 22: 231-239.

Lyons, E.M., J. Pote, M. Dacosta and B. Huang. (2007). Whole-plant carbon relations and root respiration associated with root tolerance to high soil temperatures in Agrostis species. Journal of Environmental Experimental Botany. 59: 307-313.