J. Mike Goatley


My research program emphasizes the selection and implementation of appropriate grasses and management programs that meet the needs and expectations of a particular use situation in an environmentally responsible manner.  A primary research area involves turfgrass variety evaluations that result in the production of an annual ‘Recommended Turfgrass Variety List’ for Virginia’s turfgrass managers.  Other research areas include the identification of better adapted warm-season turfgrass alternatives to existing cool-season species, urban nutrient management, and soil remediation. I work collaboratively with a variety of faculty and staff from many program areas at Virginia Tech, as well as with industry collaborators across the state of Virginia.

Role of Graduate Students

The goal for any of my graduate students is to ensure they are well-rounded in all academic areas so that a wide range of professional opportunities is available to them in their post-graduate career.  Graduate students will naturally gain a great deal of applied field research expertise given the focus of my research program, but they will also be expected to develop basic research skills under the guidance of carefully selected graduate committee members with specific expertise in basic research areas.  The students will be expected to expand their public speaking and writing capabilities during their graduate career at Virginia Tech through regular participation in a variety of opportunities to make both written and oral presentations at Field Days, Short Courses, Conferences (local, state, regional, and national) and professional meetings.

Future Research

Efforts are underway to field test a rechargeable filter to capture nitrates and phosphates from the leachate passing through the sand-based soils of the athletic fields at the University of Virginia’s Scott Field and Virginia Tech’s Worsham Field.  A strategy called ‘low impact conversion’ that was previously successfully demonstrated with bermudagrass is now being evaluated at both research and golf sites across Virginia to determine the possibility of converting cool-season turf to zoysiagrass without removing the existing turf from use.  Opportunities for expanded research in protecting urban water quality continue to present themselves and are being explored with colleagues from within and external to Virginia Tech.


Extension ProgramExtension Program

My extension program combines traditional outreach methods (face-to-face meetings, field days, short courses, and written publications) with digital outreach efforts utilizing podcasts and video clips.  Specific programming efforts are devoted to urban nutrient management issues through collaborative efforts with our industry’s primary professional trade association, the Virginia Turfgrass Council, as well as state agencies such as the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  I also serve in faculty advisory roles for the Virginia Sports Turf Managers Association and the Virginia Golf Course Superintendent’s Association.

Extension Philosophy

Being a specialist in the very specialized field of turfgrass science, I must meet the educational and programming needs of Virginia’s extension agents and its turfgrass professionals, as well as an ever growing ‘do-it-yourself’ category of homeowners.  With the support of Virginia Tech’s integrated technology professionals, I hope to further expand the digital outreach component of my extension program for all clients that I serve.


Ph.D., Agronomy, Virginia Tech, 1988

M.S., Crop Science, University of Kentucky, 1986

B.S., Agronomy, University of Kentucky, 1983


2004 - Present - Turfgrass Extension Specialist/Professor, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech. 70% Extension/30% Research

1998 - 2003 - Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences Department, Mississippi State University

1994 - 1998 - Associate Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences Department, Mississippi State University

1988 - 1994 - Assistant Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences Department, Mississippi State University

  • 540-231-2951
  • goatley@vt.edu
  • 185 Ag Quad Lane
    420 Smyth Hall
    Blacksburg, VA 24061