Sod Solutions Welcomes Martín Ignes

February 16, 2023 – Martín Ignes has joined Sod Solutions as the new Director of Retail and Professional Development for Florida. He has an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and a master’s degree from Mississippi State University in Plant and Soil Sciences with a Weed Science Concentration.

Ignes will help continue to build Sod Solutions relationships with authorized distributors, preferred installers and licensed turfgrass producers throughout Florida. He will help to increase communication and education of Sod Solutions brands within the Florida market.

I am thrilled to welcome Martín to our team and look forward to how he will help continue to grow our business operations throughout the state of Florida. Given his experience and knowledge of turfgrass maintenance and agriculture, I believe he will be a valuable asset in maintaining these industry relationships,” said the Director of Florida Operations for Sod Solutions, Mark Kann.

Education & Experience

In 2015, Ignes earned an agricultural engineering degree from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, which takes five and a half years to complete. Ignes shared that he decided to study agronomy because he’d always enjoyed being outside and playing sports. “I always imagined working in nature and outdoors, not in an office. Normally people who study agronomy in Argentina come from the countryside and their families work on farms,” he said, explaining it was kind of unusual for someone from the city to have an interest in crops and soil. “I never wanted to study business, accounting or stuff like that.”

As a young kid, Ignes enjoyed playing soccer, rugby, tennis and golf. After trying to pursue trials at various clubs in hopes he would someday become a professional soccer player, he decided to just play rugby when he turned 17 years old. “Rugby is my favorite sport and all of my friends are mostly from the rugby club.”

After graduation from the University of Buenos Aires, he went on to work for two companies in sales and then became an independent turfgrass advisor. In this role, he observed that the budgets of rugby clubs, soccer clubs and high schools were tight and wouldn’t invest money in seed, fertilizers, chemicals or better grass. Since they don’t budget very much for field maintenance, as a consultant he had to figure out how to make it the best while spending very little money using few inputs.

Martín Ignes working on his thesis at the University of Buenos Aires.

After advising sports institutions on sports field management and maintenance as an independent turfgrass consultant from the fall of 2019 through the end of 2020, Ignes decided to complete a lifelong dream of pursuing his master’s degree in the United States. During his time as a consultant, he’d met an Argentinian professional named Alejandro Canegallo who’d earned his PhD and master’s degree from Clemson University. “He gave a lecture and encouraged me to do it. So after a year of working, I knew I wanted to come here. I’ve always wanted to live abroad to have the experience to come here and work. Not just to study and to become a better professional but also to have personal life experience and get to know a new culture and new people.”

Ignes came to the U.S. for personal experience, but also because it’s the biggest country in the turfgrass industry. He explained while it’s commonly available to get a degree in turfgrass in the United States, it’s not in Argentina. He’d already taken the only three courses available on the subject. “In Argentina, we have around 300 golf courses and there are over 15,000 golf courses in the U.S. So, I knew before coming here I was coming to the biggest country in the turf industry. Also, the Master’s and academia here can help me learn and grow professionally alongside having a personal experience and investing in my future.”

Graduate Research at MSU

When Ignes decided he wanted to move to the US to get a master’s degree, he emailed various research professors at different universities asking about assistantships or funding for their programs.

He was accepted into the Mississippi State University Graduate Research program in Turfgrass Weed Science. He began the program in January 2021.

It was a culture shock in the sense it was a very small town and I usually had dinner at 10 p.m. but here it was at 5 p.m. Places closed earlier and I met a lot of people. I didn’t meet anyone else from Argentina for my first five months living here,” he shared.

Ignes explained that it had been six years since he had last studied in university and as he began the graduate program, he had to learn how to conduct research and create his own objectives. “I also had to learn scientific writing skills which is pretty hard and requires a lot of time, especially in my case since I’m not a native speaker. I actually took a course to learn how to write in a scientific style.”

He explained writing and reading research papers is not common in Argentina, and it’s something he had to learn how to do in the graduate program. “I’m actually going to publish two scientific papers. Through my research, I have gained an understanding of the key elements involved in writing, conducting and presenting research, including learning how to develop the methodology, objectives, discuss results and use statistical software.”

Ignes also completed courses in science to learn about chemicals and herbicides. He graduated in December 2022 with a 4.0 GPA.

Joining Sod Solutions

Ignes is excited to take his sales and consulting experience into his new role with Sod Solutions. He looks forward to learning and assisting sod farms with weed sciences and working with distributors and nurseries. “I have the opportunity to work with so many people in so many different places so I’ll know what’s happening and I also come with the knowledge from my master’s so if I combine all that I can give good advice, recommendations and counsel to these people so they can achieve better outcomes. Ultimately, I want to help them.”

Ignes cannot wait to call Florida home. He loves the weather and also looks forward to traveling throughout the state that his role will require. “I miss being on the road visiting customers and interacting every day to help people. I’m not the kind of person who can work inside an office all day without talking with people.”

Ignes’ friends and colleagues in agronomy heard he’s taking a job in the turfgrass industry and are impressed because of its size and scope compared with Argentina.

I know there are many players in the industry, from landscapers, nurseries, sod farms, homeowners and more.  I’m excited about being part of that and developing business for Sod Solutions. I look forward to working with Mark Kann to develop that area, get to know everyone and understand what is happening in Florida,” he said.

He considers himself very fortunate to have found a job in the turfgrass industry in a state he was hoping to work and live in so soon after completing his Master’s program. “I wanted to work in sales in a position in which I could travel and work with people and that’s what I got. It’s amazing I have a good position with a family-owned company that I really like.”

He shared that his family is so proud of him and looks forward to visiting him as soon as he’s settled in. Ignes has a close relationship with his family who all reside in his hometown of Buenos Aires. His parents are both accountants and keep the family’s 10-year-old golden retriever named Bongo, who Ignes misses greatly. His brother who is exactly 10 months older than him studied economics and now works for DirectTV and has a 1-year-old daughter. Ignes also has a sister who is a pediatrician and is married to an anesthesiologist and they have two children.

Ignes began his role in early February 2023.

Martín Ignes (far right) is pictured with his family in Buenos Aires.

Sod Solutions has helped successfully develop and release to the market over 20 different turfgrass varieties over the past 28 years including Palmetto and CitraBlue St. Augustine, EMPIRE and Innovation Zoysia and Celebration, Latitude 36 and NorthBridge Bermudagrass. The company is based in the Charleston, SC area.

This article was written by Cecilia Brown.