#ThinkDifferent: 3 Keys to High Traffic Fields

Grass Fields CAN Take More! Positive thinking and “thinking different” have established that.  The possibilities of grass fields are endless.

BUT HOW??? When it comes to current maintenance and real practicality, what changes to move forward and have your grass fields take more? 

Think Different.   Yes.  We are back to that! 

Each field’s current condition is created and maintained with an established approach.  How much has that approach changed from last year to this year? What about in the last 3 years?  5 years? 

Remember:  “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got”

Meeting the demands of increased traffic is stressful.  It can even be overwhelming to know where to start on changing a maintenance plan.  What a challenging task!  Walt Disney might have been right when he said “It is kind of do the impossible”.  But he left out the part about it being such hard work right?!  

In order to meet the demands of high traffic with grass fields and to evolve the maintenance approach, lets take a step back and simplify the challenge.  By breaking a maintenance approach into 3 keys to focus and “think different” about separately, the challenge becomes more manageable 

1)  Aggressive Cultivation

2) Nutrient Management

3) Traffic Management 

Jerad Minnick and Sarah Hardy wrote an article for SportsTurf magazine in October of 2012 that lays the foundation for these 3 keys.  Have a read of that article:  THREE KEYS to managing high traffic, high quality athletic fields

Did the concepts in the article create any new ideas for you?  Yes… it is still overwhelming to think about all of those things isn’t it?  Each key has so many actionable parts to think differently about.  With the challenge still looming and the ideas of that article being nearly 2 years old, let’s break down the 3 keys again.

Over the next week, together let’s break down each topic and share ideas, possibilities, and examples of implementation where it has been proven:  Grass fields CAN take more! 

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Welcome Back to the Possibilities of Natural Grass!

Late summer greetings to you!  Welcome back to Growing Green Grass.  We have organized our thoughts and are prepared for an exciting future of sharing the possibilities of natural grass fields.

Those possibilities expand every single day.  Grass fields really can TAKE MORE!

To achieve the possibilities for grass fields, outside the box thinking is required.  Acceptance of new things is essential.  And pressing on through the fear of change is paramount.  Because….

“If You Always Do What You Have Always Done, You Will Always Get What You Always Got”

Thankfully the excitement of the possibilities overcomes the challenge of change.   There are examples around the world of how grass fields CAN TAKE MORE!  Progressive technology, innovative maintenance practices, and growing professionalism and creativity from Grass Field Managers are opening these new possibilities.

Growing Green Grass is back and dedicated to bringing you those technologies, practices, and fostering professionalism and creativity.  We look forward to sharing and encourage your interaction!  Because think about this…

Right now, you might have a question that you are seeking the answer too.  A colleague reading this could have the answer to that very question. Great!    But more so…  a colleague also might have an answer to a question that you have not yet even thought to ask!!!

Share. Communicate.  Engage.  Encourage.  Through this collection of thoughts, through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Even texting pictures to colleagues of successes and challenges . Innovation and improvement are improved with collaborative thinking.

Welcome back.  The future for natural grass fields is BRIGHT! The natural grass revolution is STRONG!  Grass fields CAN take more!

#grasscantakemore  #thinkdifferent

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Turf Republic 2014 Innovation Award

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Have you seen the recent announcement from Turf Republic on the 2014 Innovation Award?  The announcement came out last week, more can be seen at: http://turfrepublic.com/tag/excellence-in-innovation-award-2014/

@turfinnovation on Twitter

Turf Republic on Facebook

What is it the Turf Republic Excellence in Innovation Award?

The Turf Republic Excellence in Innovation Award recognizes individuals or organizations that contribute in ways that moves the turf industry forward. This award will showcase and celebrate the ingenuity and innovation of turf managers in the Sports Turf and Golf.

How It Works
1. Submit a nomination of yourself, someone you know or an organization using the nomination form
2. Finalists will be selected from the panel of judges
3. Award winner will be selected by public vote.
4. Award will be presented at San Antonio, GIS 2015 at the Jacobsen booth.

Who Can Be Nominated
We are looking for individuals organizations that have addressed challenges and issues affecting their business using the following criteria:
– Out of box thinking
– Can be applied throughout the industry
– Created positive impact on staff, operation or industry as a whole
– Resulted in financial savings for the business
– Originality

 

So if you have an idea or invention that you think is worthy of an award, or even if it might just be able to help your neighbor improve their grass…  share and submit!  Winner will be announced at the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, TX

– See more at: http://turfrepublic.com/turf-republic-excellence-in-innovation-award/#sthash.nIFjN80C.dpuf

Welcome to the Future?!

As part of “ThinkDifferent”, I have repeatedly made the statement that “within 5 years, there WILL be a natural grass alternative to synthetic turf.”  That is a statement that the natural grass industry is closer to than any of us realize.  Through combining the best technologies and techniques with creative thinking… we are close!  No one has any idea what the future holds!

During a recent visit to France, I got a peek into what the future does hold for natural grass fields and us as Grass Field Managers.  For possibly the first time ever, two grass field agronomists (Mr. Chris Hague from Denmark and myself) spent several hours in a NeuroMusculoskeletal Biomechanics lab with some of France’s top research and medical specialists.  Country and western singer Brad Paisley’s 2009 hit “Welcome to the Future” played in my mind as we were exposed to research on the interaction between players and the field surface from a scientific, biomechanics perspective. Or maybe the more proper song would have been the introduction to the “Twilight Zone“, as we truly were introduced to an entirely new dimension in which grass fields soon will be moving.  Either song is fitting.  And the opportunity Chris and I had to be introduced to some exciting new ideas technology for natural grass fields was game changing.  Let’s take a quick look:

The group Natural Grass is responsible for the game changing ideas and research taking place in France.  Their concept revolves around the use of granulated cork in a sand root zone for a natural grass sports field.  The cork mixed in sand absorbs energy displaced into the sand from each step a player running takes.  The energy is being absorbed, lowering the injury potential.   The cork in the field gives, not the player’s ligaments or tendons.   What a great idea yeah?!?  Wow.

Granulated Cork Pieces

Granulated Cork Pieces

The agronomic benefit is similar.  With the energy absorption, the compaction potential in the sand root zone is lowered/ eliminated.  The result is an air-filled root zone in which strong, healthy grass roots can always exist.  Strong, healthy roots allow the grass can always continue to grow and recover.  And a grass sward that is always growing and recovering can take an increased amount of traffic without an increased amount of maintenance.

THE FUTURE!?!?

4" Width x 8" Profile Sample

4″ Width x 8″ Profile Sample

The research behind the cork concept is being done at the George Charpak Institute for NeuroMusculoskeletal Biomechanics.  The institute has 3 teams for research:

1) Musculoskeletal Modelling and Clinical Innovation: Oriented towards patient-specific biomechanical modelling of the musculoskeletal system, this research aims to improve the understanding of pathologies resulting from degenerative processes, traumatism or handicap, as well as develop computer aided diagnosis and therapeutic tools, or design implants and technical aids
2) Biomechanics and Nervous System: Motion Analysis and Restoration: This research is based in clinical site (CHU Henri Mondor Creteil). The aim is to better understand relationships existing between motion muscular actuators and their neurocontrol command.  Analyzing and modelling motion disorders that happen subsequently to a neurological handicap, leads to design and objective evaluation of rehabilitation protocols.  
3) Biomechanics: Sport, Health and Safety: This research, carried out in clinical site (CHU Avicenne-University Paris 13), copes with three issues: inter-relationships between sportive practice and musculoskeletal remodeling in order to optimize performance while reducing induced pathology; mechanisms of injury after impacts (road crashes, sports) to improve protection devices; tissues and structures characterization at various loading speeds

(*Information from the Institute information sheet provided us)

The Institute has completed 4 years of testing on different concepts for sports field and how they react to energy absorption and the human body.  The work is amazing.  And the results are eye-opening.  There truly is a relationship between the shock from players legs and the field surface.  Not only does the data expose the need for absorption in the soil, but also for we as grass field managers to embark on an aggressive surface testing program.

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Again….  THE FUTURE!?!?

Will it become common for grass field managers to be communicating with fitness experts and biomechanical experts?  I think YES!  Outside experts becoming involved in research and innovation for natural grass create entirely new possibilities for the limits of natural grass fields.  EXCITING!

Chris and I also had the opportunity to visit Aube Stadium in Troyes, France.  Aude is the first stadium to install the “AirFibr” system on their field (summer of 2013).  Thank you to Aube Head Grounds Manager Eric Robin for hosting us!

R to L: Chris Hague, Eric Robin, Jerad Minnick

R to L: Chris Hague, Eric Robin, Jerad Minnick

(As you look through the Natural Grass website, yes there are a few more components/ parts to the first Natural Grass product, “AirFibr”. The additional of synthetic microfibers helps with stability of a weakened root zone for winter time play, and silica sand helps with superior drainage in the French market.  And yes, some of the information Natural Grass has is commercial, as they believe in their product and want to sell it.  

But let us focusing on the concept of the cork and the energy absorption.  Let us see the creativity and importance of the Natural Grass relationship with some of France’s best researchers in the biomechanics field of study)

Here is another snap shot of the particular “Air Fibr” product: 

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Background on Organic Sand Amendments… and How Global Communication is Improving the Industry 
During a tour of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) last fall (October 2013) with Mr. Simon Gumbrill of Campey Turf Care, STRI’s Dr. Christian Spring lead us past an abandoned trial on sports field root zone mixtures involving coconuts husks.  Seeing visible squares of live and dead grass, Simon’s inquisitive mind asked the question of what was happening.  The plots containing coconut had survived the uncommon summer heat of 2013 better than the plots without, even with the trial abandoned.  

That experience left me curious about the possibilities of organic soil amendments for sand to increase durability and decrease compaction potential without introducing something like peat.   Peat is great for golf.  Why do we always have to follow golf?  For sports peat is expensive and can lead to compaction potential.  

With those thoughts on my mind, later that week I was meeting with Premier Pitches Mr. Carl Pass and Mr. Russell Latham and discussing the topic of sand reinforcement and sustainability for high traffic fields. Carl and Russell had recently visited Paris, France to see a new reinforcement  product with cork called “Air Fibr”.  There and then the connection to France and the USA via England was made.  Now our United States marketplace has another idea for innovation and natural grass durability for the future.  Communication and sharing is changing our world…  Thank you to everyone involved in sharing, communicating, and idea exchange.  Together we are re-defining our FUTURE! 

 

KORO Renovation Methods Reach California

The world-class Stub Hub Center in Los Angeles has become the latest addition to the list of facilities to put fraze mowing into practice .  In a demonstration/ field day this week, the training field for the MLS club Chivas USA was fraze mowed and renovated with pieces of the KORO renovation process.  Stub Hub Center, formerly known as Home Depot Center, is home to Chivas USA, the back-to-back defending MLS Champion LA Galaxy, US Soccer, and several of the United State’s highest profile events;

The renovation was organized by STS Services (Jock Eddington) of Phoenix, AZ and Campey Turf Care (Simon Gumbrill) of Manchester, UK.  The rest of the renovation/ demonstration team was made up of Mr. Paul Burgess (Real Madrid),  Jerad Minnick (Maryland SoccerPlex), Julie Adamski (Maryland SoccerPlex),  Kevin White (Seattle University),  Brian Wood (Commercial Turf & Tractor) and Mr. Jose Maria Aldrete (Chivas Guadalajara).  The Stub Hub Center staff, lead by Mr. Shaun Ilten, played an absolutely vital role as well.  Kudos to them for all the support and the open mind to proceed!

The Chivas training pitch is a tight mix of bermudagrass and ryegrass.  But as every grass field experiences,  an organic layer was beginning to accumulate and poa annua was starting to populate.  Mr. Ilten, Stub Hub Center’s Head Grounds Manager, recognized that fraze mowing and the KORO renovation process could be something that could not only help with keeping those challenges from increasing… but also create an even stronger and traffic tolerant surface for Stub Hub Center year round.

Renovation Goals: 

1) Eliminate/ reduce poa annua population

2) Increase durability of the field by cleaning out/ breaking up organic layering and de-compacting sub-base

3) Create a strengthened bermudagrass base to act as stability for the inner-seeded ryegrass

4)  Keep the entire surface smooth to increase playability by the high level teams

Fraze Mowing

To start the renovation, the field was fraze mowed.   With frazing, the challenges of the field: thatch, organic build up,  ryegrass, poa annua plants and poa seed: were removed off the surface while leaving the base of bermudagrass below.   As fraze mowing multiple fields in 2013 has demonstrated (Fraze Mowing Results), the Universe® rotor on the Field Topmaker cleaned the material off the surface and left the bermudagrass rhizomes to re-generate.

Fraze Mowing Off Thatch and Organic Matter w/ the KORO Universe® Rotor

Fraze Mowing Off Thatch and Organic Matter w/ the KORO Universe® Rotor

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Fraze Mowing w/ KORO Universe®

Fraze Mowing w/ KORO Universe®

The bermudagrass rhizomes exposed to the sunlight began to re-generate and run across the ground immediately.  That network creates a base of natural stability in the sub-soil.

De-Compaction

Following cleaning, the sub-surface profile was de-compacted using the Imants Shockwave w/ 8″ blades.  Shockwave, a soil wave de-compaction machine, is ideal for a heavy soil sub-surface that needs softened.

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting Sub Soil

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting Sub Soil

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting 8" Deep

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting 8″ Deep

Incorporation of Sand Into Soil Surface:

With the thatch, organic matter, poa annua, poa annua seed bank and ryegrass removed, followed with the sub-soil de-compacted…  1/2″ of sand was added to the surface.  Using an Imants RotoKnife to slice up the top, sand was worked down into the soil profile to promote infiltration, reduce compaction potential, and to provide air space for stronger plants.

Imants RotoKnife Slicing Profile to Incorporate Sand

Imants RotoKnife Slicing Profile to Incorporate Sand

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Seeding Ryegrass Into Bermudagrass Base:

Ryegrass was seeded into the bermudagrass base of the field following cleaning off, de-compaction, and sand incorporation.  With bermudagrass rhizomes beginning to re-generate across and through the soil surface, they will prove natural stability for the ryegrass that is seeded down into the soil.  The resilience of ryegrass will sustain heavy amounts of traffic without divoting or wearing away at the crown of the plant because of the bermudagrass reinforcement.

3 Days Following Fraze Mowing, Bermudagrass Beginning to Gergenerate

3 Days Following Fraze Mowing, Bermudagrass Beginning to Regenerate

Sun Setting As Seeding of Ryegrass Progresses

Sun Setting Following Seeding of Ryegrass Progresses

Conclusion:

With the beautiful Southern California sunshine beaming down on it, the ryegrass seed will now germinate and fill in quickly.  The low sun angle and mild temperatures will inhibit complete bermudagrass regeneration, but that is ok since the bermuda is there for reinforcement and playability, not turfgrass cover.    Within 4 weeks time, the training field will be available to be back on-line for the busy winter season at Stub Hub Center… and absolutely bullet proof by the time Chivas USA returns for the start of the MLS season in January.

THANK YOU to all the participants of the field day and the demonstration of the renovation practices!!  THANK YOU to Mr. Shaun Ilten and his staff and Stub Hub Center for the support and for the open mind to try the new renovation techniques.  And THANK YOU to Assistant GM of Stub Hub Center, Mr. Kyle Waters, for his time and for hosting the group for the LA Galaxy v. Real Salt Lake Playoff match at Stub Hub Center Stadium.  Stub Hub Center is one of the world’s finest…  Mr. Ilten and Mr. Waters are absolutely majors reasons why!!

More updates to come on the re-establishment.  Keep the questions coming!

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Day 5: Final Day in the UK, Manchester!

Day 5 in the UK was in the city of Manchester, home of 2 EPL powers.  Mr. Simon Gumbrill was kind enough to return as the tour guide, thank you to him for the continued hospitality and kindness!!

Our 1st stop of the day was to see Mr. Lee Jackson at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.  Mr. Jackson, one of expert group member on pitch management for ESSMA, was gracious with his time and communication.  Many thanks to Mr. Jackson for that.  And even after a heavy stretch of use, the pitch was absolutely fantastic.  Kudos to him and his staff for the hard work!

Mr. Lee Jackson

Mr. Lee Jackson

Leaving the Etihad, we traveled over to the training ground of the other team in Manchester, Manchester United.  Great to see Mr. Joe Pemberton at his own facility after he dropped in to say hello on holiday when we were fraze mowing bermudagrass for the 1st time ever this spring at FC Dallas Park.  Mr. Pemberton and his staff have the ground looking fantastic.  When we visited last spring, much of the facility was still under construction.  Wow the results are impressive!  Thank you to Joe for taking the time to show us around and to share some of his thinking around large facility management and pitch maintenance.

Mr. Simon Gumbrill and Mr. Joe Pemberton

Mr. Simon Gumbrill and Mr. Joe Pemberton

As the week in the UK closes, I can’t thank Simon Gumbrill enough for his time and guidance around the country.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Simon’s personable nature and British charm is single-handedly drawing the worlds of US and UK groundsmanship together.  THANK YOU Simon for putting up with my questions all week.

And THANK YOU to all the UK Head Grounds Managers who took time out of their day to talk with me.  I commented to someone earlier today, the warmth and openness of the UK Grounds Managers is amazing.  My last trip over the pond left me thinking the same thing.  Steve Jobs, in an award speech to the Academy of Achievement in 1982, stressed the need for different experiences in life to make new connections with reality to feed innovation.   The Grounds Managers that spent time with me discussing even the most basic of issues are laying the ground work for innovation, with both themselves and with us in the US.  THANK YOU to them for allowing me to be a part of their experiences!

Off to Madrid, Spain for the weekend before Porto, Portugal next week for the ESSMA Head Grounds Managers seminar.  Cheers to all of you for a fantastic weekend!

Day 3: Go, Go, Go!

Day 3 in the UK started at St. George’s Park, Home of the English FA.  Having hotels in the center of a soccer facility is unique and very convenient for us!

As mentioned, the training ground is absolutely fantastic.  Many thanks to Mr. Alan Ferguson and Mrs. Carol Ferguson for their hospitality and kindness.  With studying reinforcement, in particular Desso, the 1st couple of days of the trip.. it was fitting that the Desso sewing processes was taking place on a field for us to observe.  Very interesting and thought-provoking stuff!

Desso Sewed Into Sand

Desso Sewed Into Sand

The 2nd stop of the day was at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).  Know for their research and consultancy around the world, visiting STRI was even more interesting than I could have ever expected.  Many thanks to Dr. Christian Spring and Mr. Ian Anderson for the tour and the in-depth discussions.  The research trials at STRI were eye-opening on a few different topics related to high traffic grass fields… topics that we will be discussing in the future on this blog.

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Upon leaving STRI, we next stopped in at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.  Home of Leeds Rugby.  Unique to anything I’ve ever seen, Leeds Headingley is back to back with the Leeds Cricket Ground, actually sharing a stand with it.  Fantastic environment for both sports!  Also fantastic is the pitch produced by Mr. Jason Booth & Mr. Ryan Golding.  Wow.  What great information they shared with me and an even more fascinating story on reconstruction that is a bold elimination of the difference in US and UK groundsmanship.  Many thanks to them for their time.  Great great stuff…  Obviously more to come on that!

Mr. Ryan Golding & Mr. Jason Booth of Headingley Carnegie Stadium

Mr. Ryan Golding & Mr. Jason Booth of Headingley Carnegie Stadium

The day ended with spending time with Mr. Carl Pass, owner of Premier Pitches. Many thanks to him for his time and hospitality! Premier Pitches is one of the most specialized field contractors in the world for field renovation.  Mr. Pass’s unique and special Desso renovation tools aided in the birth of many of the renovation techniques discussed on this blog.  Many thanks to Mr. Pass for his time and his hospitality.

Premier Pitches Renovating Desso at St. George's Park This Past Spring

Premier Pitches Renovating Desso at St. George’s Park This Past Spring

2 more days left in the UK before heading off to Madrid for the weekend…  Day 3 absolutely was eye-opening and has aided in many, many new ideas being created.  I am looking forward to more great things to come!!