Water Star is a trademark of Pennington Seed given to qualified seed that has been tested by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA) and proven to use significantly less water. This independent and external testing by the TWCA offers results that are objectively based on computer analysis, which includes the analysis of digital images, density and green turf cover. These results are highly reputable, permanently recorded and calculate the overall quality of the turf.
The TWCA is a non-profit organization that was developed to test and give the stamp of approval to drought-resistant turfgrass varieties. The TWCA works side by side with various universities to rigorously test and conduct trials on different types of turfgrass and their drought resistance. The trials consist of data collected twice a week over the course of two years. The turfgrass is contained in structures where natural rainfall is constricted, and digital images capture and aid in the analysis of the percentage of green turf cover for each section of grass. After all the data is collected and analyzed, it is submitted to the independent research board of TWCA, who then notifies Pennington Seed of the qualified Water Star varieties.
More specifically, trials are conducted to evaluate exactly how much water different varieties of turfgrass require. The turfgrass is placed under chronic drought stress conditions where water is available in limited amounts necessary to uphold the acceptable level of green in the turf. Plots of turfgrass are given a 1/2 inch of water when each plot falls below 40% green cover. After 90 days, the total amounts of water for each turfgrass section are compared and provided to Pennington Seed, where only top-quality, water-efficient turfgrass seed is offered. For example, one type of turfgrass required 16,613 gallons of water to maintain a 5,000 square foot lawn over a 90 day period, compared to a Water Star qualified, drought tolerant seed that required only 7,788 gallons of water to maintain the same square footage over the same 90 day period. This proves the Water Star claim of requiring up to 50% less water year after year.
With the current drought in California (2014), the results of these trials are significant as we are continuously faced with water shortage and restrictions. Water Star qualified seed can not only survive limited water availability, but can also maintain overall plant health, essential qualities for anyone looking to maintain turfgrass in drought conditions.