Stress Time: Soil Test To Focus On The Weakest Link

Summer stress for natural grass surfaces is on.  Its known as the “90 Days of Hell” in the transition zone and cool season climates.  Some of our clients are reporting stress.. and social media abounds with stressed grass and stressed turfgrass managers.

Currently for clients that are seeing any kind of stress or lack of growth, we are sharing 1 simple message to our clients:  Soil Test Immediately.

WHY?

Liebig’s Law Of The Minimum 

“The availability of the most abundant nutrient in the soil is only as good as the availability of the least abundant nutrient in the soil.”

Soil testing is something that seems so simple and so trivial.  Previously we have done it and/or recommended it 1-2 times per year, but with no plan on why or when.  Then 1 day it registered with me completely when a turfgrass scientist and inventor made a very simple yet bold statement:  “I can diagnose any plant growth or healthy problem from a soil test”.

My immediate reaction was to press him. “Wait.  What?  What about the tissue test? What about a pathogen test? What about…”  NO, it can NOT be that simple!

But he can.  And he does.  A soil test can diagnose a wide range of things from something as simple as salt stress all the way to disease potential. A soil test is a true diagnosis tool.

HOW?

Liebig’s Law Of The Minimum

This “law” or “principle” of the minimum was formulated by Carl Sprengel, a German botanist, as early as 1828.  It became more well know when German biochemist and professor Justus von Liebig publicized and studied it more widely starting around 1840.  Liebig’s work became the foundation for laboratory oriented teaching as its known today and earned him consideration as the “Father of the fertilizer industry”.  Simply put, Liebig’s Law of The Minimum summarizes that plant growth and health is not controlled by the total amount of nutrients available in the soil… But instead plant growth and health is control by the scarcest of the nutrients available in the soil.  Liebig’s Law many times is summarized with the icon of a leaking bucket.  The factor of which is the weakest or slowest on the bucket is where the bucket leaks.  It is also described using a chain example- the weakest link in the chain is where the chain will break.

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Using Liebig’s Law for turfgrass management… turfgrass growth isn’t driven by maintaining upper levels of nutrients, its driven by building a foundation of all nutrients.  Grass plants are prone to disease when lacking in certain nutrients as much as having excess in other nutrients.  With the stress period of summer arriving now, a soil test from March or isn’t telling us what we need to know NOW.  Soil holding can change quickly, especially in times of frequent irrigation during drought (being experienced in part of the country right now) and in times of too much rainfall (also experienced by part of the country over the last 2 months).  Thus planning forward, for this season and forever more, our simple yet important recommendation of getting a soil test in mid-June/ early July will be concrete to help preparation for stress and in diagnose turfgrass stress or lack of growth.

Seems so simple and outdated from 1828, but a basic principle such as Liebig’s Law will certainly stand the test of time!


Frequently we are asked which soil test we utilize, as many different companies work in the soil testing market. Some of these soil tests are better than others.  Natural Grass Advisory Group™ utilizes the Ana-Lync SportsTurf™ Soil test from Harris Laboratories and Analysis International™.  We use Ana-Lynch SportsTurf™ because NGAG and Growing Innovations™ helped develop this one of a kind, sports field specific turfgrass soil test in conjunction with Floratine Products Group.  With Ana-Lync SportsTurf™, we are able to provide our clients technology and information specific to sports turf  that we have been able to influence development of.  We are able to use this test independently to create our prescriptions and advice. An example of Ana-Lync Sport™: 

SAMPLE REPORT - SOCCER - 2013-05-01 (SportsTurf) (dragged)

This blog post is Copyright © JeradRMinnick 2016 and requires written                                      permission to re-use or re-post in any commercial manner.  

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THANK YOU For Interest in SGL/ Growing Innovations Annoucement

IMG_0385Stadium Grow Lighting Officially Partners with Growing Innovations

Following the announcement of the partnership with SGL, many thanks from  Growing Innovations team for the feedback and support on the announcement !  It is a popular time for SGL.  The 2016 MasterClass took place last month in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Holland. (read more here).  And the 2016 SGL Technology Showcase is upcoming at Red Bull Arena on May 5.

Growing Innovations is excited about the timing of last week’s announcement coming from SGL with the Technology Showcase upcoming.  Pam Sherratt of Ohio State University will be sharing with the group along with special guest Mr. Karl Stanley of Wembley Stadium in London, UK.  Mr. Stanley will be sharing some extremely interesting information in reference to maintenance of one of the most used stadium fields in the world.  Very, very excited to have him coming to the USA!

If you haven’t received an invitation, let us know and we will get you one.  The  Showcase will feature SGL technology from light to climate control to their newest addition of UV light for killing turfgrass diseases.  There is no doubt any and all participants will gain perspective and knowledge.

THANK YOU again for the support as Growing Innovations continues to “grow” and expand.  Look for the introduction of our new Sports Science and Technology Director coming soon in addition to new partnerships to continue to provide new technologies and solutions to meet the demand of high use on natural grass surfaces!

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Highlights: Celebration Technical Management School

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Solutions and possibilities. These were the theme for the first ever Celebration Bermudagrass Technical Management School last week. Celebration Management School took place in 3 locations in Florida and featured extensive information exchange and idea generation. The Management School was based around the expanded possibilities of Celebration bermudagrass and how the unique varieties helps meet the demand for high traffic natural grass fields.  The school curriculum focused in on specific protocols and approaches for maintaining Celebration under high traffic and limited rest time.  It was a privileged for me to join Mr. John Chapman as one of the teachers for the school!

Each day’s venue provided a unique perspective.  Each has a unique venue for an athletic field school and a different perspective on high traffic Celebration bermudagrass.  The South Florida event was held at the Spanish River Library in Boca Raton, followed with a tour of de Hoernie Soccer Complex in Boca.  The west Florida event was held at the Sarasota Polo Club in Sarasota, FL.  And the central Florida event was held in the City of Orlando City Council Chambers with a tour of the high traffic public park/ open space at the Dr. Phillips Performance Arts Center.  Soccer, polo, and public space for all activities.  The high traffic, challenging demands that we all were able to observe Celebration sustaining growth and recovery under were all very unique.

Some of the initial highlights from the school included:

  • Encouragement to think outside the box and try new things, with Celebration maintenance and with natural grass field maintenance overall
  • Introduction to multiple examples of Celebration bermudagrass performing as the strong, durable, reduced input grass that meets the demand even under high traffic
  • Exploration of why and how Celebration bermudagrass has set itself as the standard bermudagrass to meet the demand of high traffic fields in the South

 

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Advancing into the technical information of the Celebration Management School, John Chapman and myself (along with unprecedented group participation) explored:

  • The simplicity and importance of mowing 2+ times per week at 1” or below to promote density, increase durability, reduce thatch accumulation potential, and provide natural weed control
  • A wide range of aeration techniques for meeting the demand for high use and promote Celebration’s ability to root up to 5’ in 1 year. Video examples supported the explanation of each aeration type to create a demonstration environment for participants.
  • How surface aeration and de-compaction aeration are 2 very different types of aeration. Real world data was supplied to illustrate how GMax reduction and infiltration rate increase differs with each.
  • Multiple cultivation tools to reduce/ remove thatch accumulation and promotion of lateral growth to increase density and durability. The tools range from simply brushing with a tow behind brush or brushes on the front of reels or decks to verticutting and even Universe® Fraze Mowing.
  • The importance of planning and combining aeration and cultivation practices to ensure maximum benefit with each and every practice that takes place.
  • Understanding that June, July, and August are the prime time to encourage and establish bermudagrass strength and root depth to support against high use all year round.
  • Soil testing results and why having data for plant available nutrients is as important as overall nutrient content in the soil.
  • Fertilizer technologies and techniques to promote consistent, healthy, strong Celebration growth nearly all year round.
  • Reinforcement of why durable, strong Celebration growth requires a maximum of 3-5 lbs N/ year and how most of that N should come from a slow release source of N
  • Potassium’s importance, leading to the need to keep yearly N:K ratios and 1:1 or 1:1+
  • Foliar feeding and how during periods of stress, especially fall, winter and spring, foliar feeding will act as a medical IV to support for Celebration growth and recovery.
  • How humic acid supports soil health and the battle against soil compaction from high use

 

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Celebration Management School students shared many examples of success with each topic. The interaction between participants and we as teachers was nearly the best I have ever experienced. Because of that, multiple points were created and raised:

  • Approaches for using growth regulators to 1) increase density and durability along with 2) decreasing mowing.
  • Using a moisture meter to track soil moisture to better manage irrigation and to track to what depth proper soil moisture is being reached during different times of the year. That moisture meter can also be used to create a standard for field closure protocols for rain.
  • Celebration has a strong ability to sustain growth in a wide range of soil pH conditions
  • Flushing during times of drought in Florida is vital to wash down salt and/or bi-carbonate build ups that come from poor quality irrigation water in the state.

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The end section of Celebration Management School shared ideas and featured dialogue between students in reference to Celebration’s ability to sustain winter growth and recovery:

  • Celebration is a “shade tolerant” bermudagrass. Shade tolerance indicates Celebration micromole requirement for light is lower than most all other bermudagrass. Thus winter’s short day length (example, Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year) and low sun angle (sun is low on the horizon) do not cause Celebration to go dormant like other bermudagrass varieties
  • Because Celebration can survive low light conditions, tools like dye and paint can be utilized to absorb heat and promote growth
  • Grow tarps/ blankets, used regularly on fields in the central and northern part of the USA but not in Florida, can be excellent tools to generate heat and regeneration for Celebration during cooler winter months.
  • Results were share and examined from a University of Florida trial on the impact of a range of colors of topdressing sands to promote heat and growth. Those results are dramatic, and the trial is ongoing. The information is very valuable for supporting winter growth.
  • Re-visit to points made previously on foliar feeding in the winter to support Celebration plant systems.
  • Also re-visiting fertilizer technology and explanations of organic fertilizer/ mineral fertilizer blends work well in the winter to encourage soil microbes and generate heat
  • Overseeding: To overseed with ryegrass or not overseed with rye grass. Celebration’s aggressive nature allows it to transition back to 100% bermuda faster and with less inputs.
  • Celebration’s winter tolerance allows can allow for reduced overseeding rates

The discussion about deciding to overseeding or not to overseed was excellent. Ultimately, a Sports Turf Manager must balance what is best for the grass with what is best for the playability of the field. The majority of the group decided (with encouragement from the teachers) that playability and safety come #1, ahead of our desires to do what is best for the grass. With Celebration, overseeding is possible because it transitions quickly and aggressively.

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In closing the Celebration Technical Management School, participants were challenged with case studies for Celebration natural grass fields. Two scenarios of specific situations, time, and traffic demand were supplied. Participants split into groups where they worked to create their own management suggestions in reference to 1) mowing 2) cultivation 3) plant feeding and 4) additional comments for overall maintenance to meet the challenge. The case studies allowed participants to interact much like they do with them maintenance supervisors and staff each day  while at the same to provided us as teachers with an assessment tool to ensure the participants would be able to utilize information ASAP in their own maintenance plan.

THANK YOU to all participants that joined us for Celebration Technical Management School. Ultimately, we hope each participant was able to take a a minimum of 1 actionable idea back with them to utilize immediately with their maintenance routine. THANK YOU for your positive attitudes and open minds. The possibilities for Celebration are amazing, no doubt you will continue to see amazing results and be able to build on those through this growing season!

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IDEAS! OSTMA Newsletter Case Study : Pro-Active Solutions for Fall Field Overseeding

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Case Study #1: In-season, high traffic football and soccer field on native soil with Kentucky bluegrass and fescue

This field manager has the ultimate challenge in order to get new seed established during the busy season of the year. This field will experience high traffic through the fall even through the time it goes dormant. If you were that manager, what would you do?

Compaction from high traffic is the biggest challenge with this native soil field. Especially through the center and on the sidelines of the American football surface. Overseeding during such heavy play seems nearly impossible. But an open mind and creativity can create possibility!

Cultivation: Aeration should be the #1 cultivation focus for this field. Aeration should take place as often as manpower allows. If multiple games are being played each week, some sort of aeration can take place weekly through the high traffic field center. Yes… weekly! There can be fear of aeration of a grass field under high traffic. However we know the damage that compaction and surface hardness can cause. Especially on native soil.  Avoiding the fear to be aggressive while using good judgment on how and when can counteract those compaction issues and increase use on a grass field.

De-compaction:   Deep tine or soil wave aeration is non-disruptive for de-compaction every other week during the playing season through the high traffic field center and sidelines. The entire field should be de-compacted every other time. Frequent de-compaction will keep the root zone open for deep rooting and will allow rainwater to move vertically through the soil profile to reduce the impact of rain events. De-compaction in combination with fall weather will allow the existing stand of grass to recover from summer stress and withstand heavy use as well.

Surface aeration: Solid tine, rapid tine aeration or slicing is non-disruptive and can take place every other week, alternating de-compaction weeks, during the playing season through the high traffic field center and sidelines. The entire field should be done every other time. Surface aeration will soften the surface and create a seedbed for overseeding. Surface aeration will also open voids for topdressing sand to blend into the surface.

Seeding: Overseeding a field under constant using takes more creativity.

Seed Selection: Using quick germinating seed with good traffic tolerance is important. In the past, perennial ryegrass has been an overseeding grass to avoid because of summer stress issues. But with genetic improvement for disease and traffic tolerance, overseeding with perennial ryegrass in season is possible. Aggressive new Kentucky bluegrass varieties are also available that germinate fast and sustain traffic. Combine perennial ryegrass with Kentucky bluegrass and seed the center of the high traffic field lightly (Up to 2 lb perennial ryegrass, 1 lb Kentucky bluegrass) each week of September prior to play. Seeding into October isn’t recommended unless in south Ohio as frost and cool temperatures limit seedling growth. Springtime seeding should utilize fescue with Kentucky bluegrass and limit the ryegrass use in the spring.

Seed to Soil Contact: Seeding prior to the events of the week with allow the seed to get worked into the soil by cleats through the high traffic area of the field. In addition, the bi-weekly surface aeration will work in the seed. Aeration can be used as a seeding tool by seeding right behind surface aeration. The seed can fall down into the aeration holes allowing the crown of the seedling plant to be protected from traffic so it can re-generate after leaf damage. Light topdressing following the surface aeration and seeding will cover the seed to hold moisture for germination as well.

Summary:

  • De-compaction aeration 2x a month during season (1x center, 1x entire field)
  • Surface aeration 2x a month during season (1x center, 1x entire field)
  • Seed center of field lightly w/ up to 2 lbs perennial ryegrass & 1 lb Kentucky bluegrass each week of September
  • Combine surface aeration with seeding or use cleats/ traffic to work in seed
  • Light topdressing can protect seed as well

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Case Study #2: End-of-season, high traffic in early spring through late summer baseball field on a sand soil with Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass

This field manager may feel relief for the end of the season, but fall overseeding will be the catalyst for the field’s survival through a busy spring and summer. This field will be exposed to high traffic even before the grass breaks dormancy in the spring. If you were that manager, what would you do? 

Fall recovery and spring preparation are the goals for this high traffic field. Early season play likely aids the Poa Annua population in the field, so Poa control in the fall is important as well.

Cultivation: Aggressive cultivation is important to promote recovery for the existing grass and create a good seedbed to encourage seed growth and establishment.

Verticutting or Universe fraze mowing: Immediately following the season in preparation for overseeding, verticutting or Universe fraze mowing should take place. Verticutting is the standard practice for thatch and organic build up, removing 11%-15% of material. Universe fraze mowing can remove up to 100% of the thatch and organic build up, along with removing the Poa Annua plants and the Poa Annua seed. Re-generation from both practices makes the field more durable, with Universe fraze mowing producing a dramatic improvement in density and durability. Use either practice followed with the remaining cultivation practices.

De-Compaction: De-compaction aeration should take place 1x immediately after verticutting or Universe fraze mowing in conjunction with overseeding. De-compaction will allow the existing grass to recover and open the sand profile to keep water moving through from regular irrigation for seed growth.   De-compaction aeration can also take place as the grass goes dormant in late October to encourage natural aeration from freezing and thawing.

Surface aeration: Surface aeration should take place following de-compaction in the fall overseeding process. Surface aeration with surface removal is important to encourage existing grass recovery. Core aeration or recycle dressing will open the surface and allow sand to be blended in. Seed immediately after surface aeration and use the open surface as a seedbed to establish seed. Topdress following seeding to cover and protect seed if possible.

Seeding: Establishing seed during the fall with no traffic is a grass manager’s dream. But don’t be overly relaxed because establishment is essential for spring.

Seed selection: Kentucky bluegrass can be the primary seed of choice in fall seeding with limited traffic. New varieties of Kentucky bluegrass are quick to germinate and establish. Depending on how early in the spring that play begins, keep in mind that perennial ryegrass is early to green up and grow in the spring. Fields with play in February and March can blend in perennial ryegrass with Kentucky bluegrass to provide an early season surface. 3-4 lbs of Kentucky bluegrass is an excellent overseeding rate. Do not use too much, as Kentucky bluegrass should be pushed to spread and fill-in. Add 2 lbs of perennial ryegrass to the early season fields as well. That rate of ryegrass will likely be taken over by the more aggressive Kentucky bluegrass in the summer.

Seed to Soil Contact: Verticutting or Universe fraze mowing followed with core aeration or recycle dressing will create a seedbed for overseeding. A light topdressing can be combined to cover seed if desired.

Summary:

  • Verticut or Universe fraze mow to remove organic material
  • De-compact following to soften sand then de-compact again as field goes dormant
  • Surface aerate with core aeration or recycle dressing to open surface for recovery
  • Overseed with 3-4 lbs Kentucky bluegrass, 2 lbs of perennial ryegrass for early spring play
  • Light topdressing to cover seed

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Did you approach these the same way?  Share your experiences, both positive and negative, with your colleagues in the industry!  THANK YOU for the feedback and participation.  GREAT, GREAT feedback!


 

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OSTMA Fall Newsletter Article

Pro-Active Solutions for Fall Field Overseeding
Creative techniques for seeding in the fall to insure a durable field all year round.

The fall season is the most ideal time for cool season field cultivation and overseeding. Consistent rainfall and cool night temperatures help existing cool season grasses recover quickly, while higher soil temperatures created from the summer heat make an ideal time to get quick germination and growth on seed.

However, fall is also one of the most high traffic times of the year on many cool season fields. To avoid having to close fields completely, grass field managers are challenged to be creative and pro-active on fall field maintenance practices to meet the demands. Let’s re-examine some cultivation and overseeding approaches.

Cultivation
Fall is a wonderful time for cool season turfgrass to recover from summer stress and grow roots for fall and winter play. But black layer from consistent watering, thatch from clipping and stressed or dying turfgrass, and compacted soils from limited cultivation during summer stress limit what existing grass and new seed can do. Before overseeding and fertilization are considered in a fall maintenance program, cultivation should be Step #1.

De-compaction aeration: Soften the soil deep

Examples of Solutions:

Deep tine aerator
Soil wave aerator (ex. Imants Shockwave, Redexium VertiQuake)
Soil air refresher (ex. Koro Recycling Dresser)
De-compaction aeration is softening the soil down below a 6” depth. De-compaction allows for deeper rooting of existing turfgrass, allows better irrigation and rainfall infiltration, and softens the entire field surface for safety and playability.

Timing: De-compaction aeration should take place a minimum of 3x during the fall season (or as much as budget allows). A deep tine or soil wave machine can be run the same day as a field event, so even if the field is under high traffic de-compaction aeration can take place. Soil air refreshing deep for de-compaction requires a 7- 10 day break and also can take place at the end of the fall season.

Surface aeration: Open up the surface

Examples of Solutions

Rapid tine aeration (Coring tines/ solid tines/ needle tines/ knife tines)
Linear slicing (blades or solid slicing rollers)
Soil refreshing aeration (KORO Recycling dresser)
Surface aeration has multiple positives in the fall. Surface aeration is any type of aeration that vents the surface (top 3-4”) for air, water infiltration, and to soften the field for player safety. Using hollow tines to core aerate removes organic matter build up and/or sod layer and creates channels for air and topdressing (if it fits into the budget). Core aeration is labor intensive with the clean up of plugs, but the benefit outweighs challenge. Core aeration and solid tine aeration equally create holes for seed to fall into for seed to soil contact when overseeding. Slicing can open more surface area than most tine aeration methods to open the surface of the field as well and promote healthy plant growth

Timing: The type of surface aeration used is to be dictated by the schedule of use. Core aeration could require a break of up to 7-10 days. On native soil, solid tine aeration and/or slicing can take place with play on the field immediately after. Sand could need a 3-5 day break in order for the surface to become stable again before play. Soil air refreshing down to a 4” depth requires a 5-7 break to grow in the slices.

Verticutting

Examples of Solutions:

Wide range of sizes and types of verticutting machines available
Verticutting is extremely effective in the fall, especially in conjunction with overseeding. Verticutting removes some thatch build up, opens up the black layer that can build during summer with heavy watering, and will promoted Kentucky bluegrass density and durability. Like core aeration, the clean up from verticutting can labor intensive. But just as core aeration, the benefit outweighs the challenge.

Timing: Verticutting can take place w/ a 3-5 day break and in no effects stability or playability of a field. For practice, a field could be verticut the same day as play.

Universe fraze mowing

Examples of Solutions:

Universe Fraze Mowing (KORO Field Topmaker w/ Universe® rotor
The new cultivation technique of Universe fraze mowing has now proven to be a valuable practice. This is especially in the fall on Kentucky bluegrass in combination with overseeding. Similar to verticutting, Universe fraze mowing promotes Kentucky bluegrass density and durability while removing thatch and organic buildups. But instead of removing 11-15% of material like verticutting, Universe fraze mowing removes up to 100% of the material to the desired depth. That depth is set above the growing point of the Kentucky bluegrass to allow re-generation. Universe fraze mowing also removes poa annua plants that are short rooted from summer stress, the poa annua seed bank on top of the field, and other weed seed that has accumulated. Universe fraze mowing also helps smooth the field surface.

Timing: The depth or aggressiveness of Universe fraze mowing varies depending on the window of time the field as off. A light Universe fraze mow cleans the very top of a field and can take place in a window of 10-14 days. Going more aggressive to remove more organic and poa annua can require up to 21-35 days, depending on the age of the field and the amount of prior maintenance.

Overseeding

Once fall cultivation is addressed/ planned, overseeding should be addressed. Overseeding in conjunction with the cultivation can added effectiveness to both practices. When preparing to overseed, consider a few different things:

Seed selection

New genetics in fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and ryegrass are changing what is possible for fields and overseeding. Fast germination, increased aggressiveness for spreading and filling in, and stronger roots for establishment and quicker playability all exist. Also lowering demands for dark green color is being replaced with an appreciation for aggressiveness and durability unlike ever before. All lead to a new world for seeding. For an example, consult SportsTurf.com online and read the July article by Ms. Julie Adamski about a Kentucky bluegrass field that went from seed to play in 35 days. From Seeding to Play in 35 Days. That feat has provided an example and confidence for grass field managers exploring using new seed varieties.

Additionally, the genetic improvements now make fescue and ryegrass capable of existing on high traffic fields together, in with Kentucky bluegrass, or even on their own. No longer do grass field managers have to hold their breath during disease stress times with these varieties. Do your homework on what is available from the seed companies you have existing relationships with, but consider possibly branching outside those relationships as well to find what is working for others. Keep in mind with seed; the old proverb “you get what you pay for” is 100% true.

Seed to Soil Contact

When seeding, no matter the variety you select, seed to soil contact is important. Soil contact ensures the seed is not sitting in the thatch layer or laying on top of the ground where is could dry out quickly or struggle to push roots down into the soil. There are a few different options for overseeding to will help promote seed to soil contact.

Seeding in conjunction with cultivation: Seeding following core aeration, solid tine aeration, verticutting, or Universe fraze mowing can promote seed to soil contact. Aeration holes give the seed cavities to fall down into the soil. This is effective especially for fields still in play during seeding as the crown of the plant grows below the surface where it is protected from cleats. Do not aerate too deep though if doing so to promote seed. Verticutting cleans some thatch out and creates linear channels for seed. Universe fraze mowing cleans the thatch completely from the top, but it still needs an additional cultivation to work the seed into the soil. Keep in mind that when seeding in conjunction with cultivation, the more surface area that is opened up, the better success seeding will have.
Using a penetrating seeder: Several different seed application machines are available on the market. With a seeder, just as when cultivating for seed, the more surface area that is penetrated the better off the seed application will be.
Seeding before heavy traffic: Our forefathers in grass field management have handed down this method through years of use. Applying seed to the high traffic areas of a field 1-2 days before a heavy use will allow play to create the seed to soil contact. An example would be seeding the center of a football field prior to play. Keep in mind that if using any clean up techniques following the heavy traffic, it could also pick up the seed. Follow the high traffic event with a deep irrigation cycle to settle in the seed to ensure success with this technique.
Topdressing to cover seed: Topdressing with sand, compost, or even lightly with the field’s native soil will create seed to soil contact. Keep in mind that too much topdressing burying the seed can be a bad thing .
Be Creative!

These are just a few ideas to help solve the complex challenge of fall cultivation and overseeding. Yes, there are many, many other ideas for meeting the challenge. Make sure to ask questions of your fellow grass field managers to create more possibilities to meet the challenge. Follow colleagues, STMA Chapters, and sports field managers around the world on social media to witness the creativity that others are using. Share your experiences equally for others to learn from your lessons to help build creativity and idea generation.

HGT Kentucky bluegrass under aggressive cultivation following 167 events in less than 6 months.

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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Transcript of Keynote: ESSMA Head Grounds Manager Seminar

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Jerad R. Minnick

ESSMA Head Grounds Managers Seminar
Estadio do Dragao, Home of FC Porto

SEE PRESENTATION HERE:  

ESSMA Keynote Presentation

#Think.Different

(Slide 1) Welcome to the 2013 ESSMA Head Grounds Managers Seminar!  Thank you to Ricardo Carvalho, Stadium Manager FC Porto, and all of FC Porto for hosting us.  Let’s all give FC Porto a hand to say Thank You again!  (Applause)

(Slide 2) And Thank You to Dimitri (Huygen.. Managing Director of ESSMA) for the introduction.  I am Jerad Minnick from the Maryland SoccerPlex in the USA

(Slide 3) Maryland SoccerPlex is a 22 field, 160 acre park on the northwest of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  (Slide 4) DC, the capital city of the USA, it approximately 4 hours south of New York City by car. (Gov shut down joke… its Day 2 of the shutdown)

(Slide 5) Amazingly, to illustrate how large the USA is, the place I grew up and started my career is 16 hours to the west of Washington, DC by car.  That would be the equivalent of driving from here (Porto) to somewhere like Frankfurt, Germany.  Yet that is barely only HALF WAY across the USA.  Absolutely we are a big country, with a wide range of challenges when it comes to grass fields and stadiums.

(Slide 6) Speaking of American stadiums, the place 16 hours to the west of DC is where my management career started… at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City w/ Head Grounds Manager Trevor Vance.  (Slide 7) I then had the privilege to work with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer in establishing their training ground and working towards building their magnificent new stadium.  The challenges and lessons of those experiences prepared me for current roll at the Maryland SoccerPlex (Slide 8).

More about SoccerPlex…  Our facility boasts 22 full size fields.  (Slide 9) Of those fields, 10 are Kentucky bluegrass.  (Slide 10) 5 Kentucky bluegrass fields are on a native clay soil w/ topdrain, 4 are native clay soil w/ no drainage, and 1.. SoccerPlex Stadium.. is a full sand based field w/ the American version of fibresand.

(Slide 11) 9 more of the SoccerPlex fields are bermudagrass.  (Slide 12) 7 of those bermudagrass fields are on native clay soil and the 2 other fields are newly constructed on pure sand.

Why the 2 kinds of fields?  DC is in the middle of the “transition zone” where both grasses grow actively for about 6 months.  Temperatures range from -18 C (0 F) in the winter to 40 C (105 F)  in the summer.  So in the DC region, we are able to use each grass as a “tool” for extra events.  In the heat of the summer, bermudagrass is nearly indestructible and can be played on and played on and played on.  Then in the spring and fall, we can equally load up the Kentucky bluegrass w/ extra events such as trainings and clinics in addition to the regular scheduled matches.  All fields are always open, but the stronger grass in its prime season allows for extra use above and beyond.

So as we talk about events (Slide 13), currently our facility hosts somewhere around 8,000 events per year.  That is an average of 350 matches/ trainings/ events per field equating into about 700 hours.  With the amount of traffic, we all (management staff AND grounds staff) feel that we are still only at about 75% of our available capacity.  Our grounds staff goal is to reach a total of 500 matches/ trainings/ events per field per year by 2015.  That equals 11,000 total events.

OK… obviously this is an AGGRESSIVE goal!!!  I can see the look on your faces! haha

(Slide 14) And via industry accepted thinking and historical data….  THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE!!

(Slide 15)  RIGHT?!?!

(Slide 16) Just like it was IMPOSSIBLE to sail around the world because the WORLD WAS FLAT!!

This IMPOSSIBLE word reminds me of a story that is told in the USA about a college student who showed up late for his math final exam.  The student rushes in, grabs his test, then sits down and diligently goes to work.  Only being a few minutes late, the student is alarmed as other students were wrapping up and turning in the test with several minutes left in the class period… yet he was having a bit of a struggle with the last 2 problems on the test.  But the student didnt give in.  He worked and worked until the time ran out, though he was the only person left in the class.  The next day, the professor phoned the student and proclaimed “Congratulations!! You are a genius!!! You answered the last 2 questions!!”.  Confused, the student asked the professor what he meant.  The professor explained that the last 2 questions on the test were “brain teasers” for extra credit… that they might not have had an answer.  Yet the student had answered both when no one else in the class even made an attempt at answering them.

Turns out the student, in his tardiness, had missed the announcement that the last 2 problems were extra and might be “impossible”.  Knowing no different… the student found a way to answer them both.

Amazing what can be accomplished when the negative thinking is kept out.

(Slide 17) “IMPOSSIBLE is not something that can not be done.  It is actually just something that has not been done YET.”

An example from my childhood:  I illustrated how I started my career 16 hours west of the Washington, DC area in Kansas City.  Well until I was 18, I grew up/ raised by my parents in a farm village called Lock Springs, that is about 2 hours north of Kansas City.  Back home, and all across the heartland of the USA, farms operate nearly independent of any major piece of society support.  There is never “won’t” or “can’t” when it comes to a challenge, farmers are forced to find a way to make the impossible possible.  Their livelihoods depend on it.  Without facing challenges, the crops don’t succeed and/or they do not eat.   Never in my 18 years of home life did I hear “impossible” or “can’t” from my grandfather or father’s mouths.  Even today as we speak, my dad is out there on the farm “finding a way!”. Nothing is impossible when there is no other option!   

(Slide 18) So for us to achieve 500 matches a year on a field at Maryland SoccerPlex (or on any field in the world), we must abandon historical inside the box thinking…. and #THINK.DIFFERENT.

So then I ask the group.  When/ who decided anything in life is IMPOSSIBLE?  Who decided that grass fields can’t take more? (Slide 19) Are they the same negative people in the early 1980’s told Steve Job, the co-founder of Apple, that people do not need a personal computer?  That computers never will be popular/ useable?  Well who today has one of these? (pull out my IPhone and show the group… and every hand goes up) SURPRISE!! (Slide 20) Personal computers are rather popular!!!

Are the people who decide grass fields can’t take more the same people who told Henry Ford that horses were an acceptable means of transportation?  (Slide 21) Ford commented that when he asked people what they needed, they responded by saying “we need a faster horse”.  Well that’s a fast horse!! (Slide 22).  Not only did thinking leave the box of a faster horse… we advanced to airplanes (Slide 23), space shuttles (Slide 24), and even a car on the moon!!! (Slide 25).  (Slide 26)… is that the original Ford car on the moon?!? haha.

WOW that advanced QUICKLY!!  All because of thinking outside the box and not accepting the “normal” thought that something is IMPOSSIBLE.

(Slide 27) #THINK.DIFFERENT 

(Slide 28)  An example from my career:  During my time serving with the management team at Sporting Kansas City, we were faced with a challenge.  The existing stadium was no longer available.  But before a new stadium was built, a temporary home had to be found and prepared.  The facility that best matched the organization’s needs was not a soccer stadium:  It was a baseball stadium!  Baseball and soccer had shared the same field at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC… so it had been done before.  But when done, the expense was massive in 2 parts:  1) the field suffered for baseball and for soccer, and 2) sport conversions cost was over $80,000 American dollars.  Neither of these could be an option for us if the team was going to be able to win and organization make any money at all.

So the team Development Vice President, Mr. David Ficklin, and myself hopped a flight to Washington, DC to study and learn from the baseball and soccer set up at RFK.  We studied each of the pieces of the baseball to soccer/ soccer to baseball conversion.  It was never that we “can’t” do this.  It was never considered that the feat was “impossible”.  I can recall vividly how confident and committed Mr. Ficklin was to the fact that we WOULD find an answer to make the conversion cost more affordable AND to make a playing surface where neither baseball or soccer suffered.

(Slide 29) And then the “ah ha” moment came.  You have those right?  The “ah ha” moment where everything just makes sense?  Where the dots all get connected? Well with thinking about what was POSSIBLE… instead of what was IMPOSSIBLE… it hit me.  Starting my management career in baseball, I knew the ins and outs of baseball field maintenance well.  The use of the baseball dirt areas is not as common as it would seem that it is.  Grass repair work on a baseball field generally always takes place because the 2nd baseman and the shortstop both spend a good amount of time playing back on the grass arch of the infield.  Also, the baselines do not get used as much as one thinks:  Watch a baserunner slap a basehit to the outfield.  He is going to round 1st base wide, not using the baseline.

(Slide 30) So the answer to our challenge was clear.  Turning the dirt infield skin into grass with dirt sliding areas around each base.  The concept was being used on multiple fields around the country; though each of them was synthetic.  But still, with aggressive grass maintenance, I was convinced we could make it happen.  The surface would be consistent and smooth.  And we could cut our conversion costs down to around $10,000 American dollars for the field.  Neither sport, or the budget,  would suffer from playing both sports.

The negative feedback from field “experts” for both sports was endless.  “Can’t”.  “Impossible”. Even “ridiculous” are things I heard about the grass infield concept.  Yet in 3 seasons, the field won Field of the Year awards from both baseball and soccer.  The concept not only worked… it worked WELL.  We had hoped that the example would set a trend for baseball fields to go to grass infields across the south US, as the grass would help baseball teams cut down their rain out potential by reducing the amount of dirt needing covered.  But No.  Even with the positive example, the negative thinking was not turned.

(Slide 31) Another example:  Last fall at SoccerPlex, we did a stadium field renovation.  An organic layer build up and poa annua infestation had reduced the field’s ability to sustain heavy use, so it was time to improve the surface.  But as we considered replacing the field, I had 2 concerns.  1) The best bluegrass genetics were not available in sod yet as growers across the US had not started producing the newest and best for sod.  And 2) the introduction of a sod /organic layer limited our ability to use the stability fibers in our stadium sand.  Our fibers, the American version of fibresand, were not being used correctly when sod was unrolled across them instead of seed being sewed into them where the plant roots could weave completely into them and form stability.

During a trip to the UK, France, Holland, and Spain last May, the common question from Head Grounds Managers (many of whom are in this room, and I THANK!) was why sod when you I should be seeding?  Seeding in the USA is not common.  In fact, it NEVER happens.  I spent some time with Jason at Leeds rugby last week and he told me about his field renovation last winter…  the field was re-built, then sodded as it was the dead of winter and in the middle of the season.  Yet when the season ended, their 1st action was to come in and cut out the sod and SEED the field to remove the sod/ sand interface.  WOW.  If Jason told that story in the USA, half the room (Academics and Grounds Managers alike) would get up and walk out of the room as if Jason was claiming he landed on the moon!!  We. Do. Not. Seed. To. Establish. Fields.

With that said, we decided to seed SoccerPlex Stadium.  The negative feedback equaled the positive feedback.  “Can’t”.  “Won’t”.  “Impossible”.  It was a common theme… even (Slide 32) people took to social media and publicly voiced their dis-belief.  One day I am going to be giving a talk with this slide in it, and this guy is going to be in there.  Guess I owe him a beer… but ultimately I think he owes ME a beer…  Because 35 Days after seeding, the field was open (Slide 33)

(Slide 34) #Think.Different:  If we keep the thinking of the negative people who publicly proclaim things are impossible, we will never advance.

(Slide 35) The ESSMA Stadium Partners set a fantastic example of #Think.Different and outside the box.  It is why it is an honor for me to be here with you in Porto giving this talk.  Examples:

In the middle 90’s Ko Rodenburg would not accept the fact that poa annua control and seed clean up was not possible.  (Slide 36) Hence the KORO Field Topmaker was born and the KORO Renovation Revolution began!

(Slide 37) Nico van Vuuren knew that he could grow roses inside, year round.  So why couldn’t grass grow inside?!?  Now it can!!! (Slide 38) SGL was born.

(Slide 39) #Think.Different

(Slide 40) Sand base fields are necessary for drainage and compaction.  But stability issues, especially with rye grass, are common on sand.  (Slide 41)  Desso decided stability can just be sewed right into the sand!

(Slide 42) Stadiums of the 21st century ARE multi use venues.  They are entertainment venues.  Not just sports fields. (Slide 43).  Concerts happen the night before athletic competitions now.  (Slide 44). But with Terraplas, that becomes possible!  This photo, from FC Dallas Stadium (the premier soccer surface in the USA) shows damage from a concert the night before.  Wait?  What damage?  (right side shows a small amount of yellow.. look CLOSE though!)

(Slide 45) #THINK.DIFFERENT! 

(Slide 46) GRASS FIELDS CAN TAKE MORE!!!  

ESSMA’s core values are the foundation of how grass fields can take more.  Friendship is at work here in the room today.  Respect is what we have for our colleagues hard work and results.  Excellence describes that work.  Teamwork is base for excellence to gain respect.  And Integrity wraps it all together in an ethical manner.  All of these values build the foundation for positive thinking and communication.  Communication.  Communication.  

(Slide 47) Open communication (taking place right here in this room!) around the world is what leads to innovation. I use a Steve Jobs story again, fittingly as he is the modern world example and founder of #Think.Different:  In 1983 in an award speech for innovation, Mr. Jobs references the importance of experience on innovation.  Experiencing situations outside of our own is how creative thinking is born.  Sharing ideas and experiences just as we are here in this room today with 10 different languages being spoken and a multitude of challenges being faced…  Today we all sit here together as ONE.  As we communicate and exchange experiences, we realize that the person next to us has answers to questions that we have.  We have answers to questions that they have.  And together we all have answers to questions that others may not even know that need to be asked!!!

WOW!!!  Now that is POWERFUL!!!

Think about that...  right now, someone in this room has the answer to a question that before the day started, they didn’t even know needed to be asked.  I have shown examples:  We at SoccerPlex didn’t even think about the question needing to be asked was “what seed”… not “what sod”.  Henry Ford said himself… people didn’t know they needed to be asking for a new CAR, they wanted a faster horse!  Imants invented the new Universe rotor for the Field Topmaker for Desso… but we have found its amazing on bermudagrass.  IDEAS. IDEAS. IDEAS.

(Slide 48) And THAT ladies and gentlemen… is why we are in the middle of  REVOLUTION.  We are no longer changing the answer to the questions.  We are now changing the questions that are being asked.  #REVOLUTION.

(Slide 49) I leave you with a simple conclusion….  We are here discussing the challenges that we all face, all over the world.  But ultimately, none of the challenges go away if we do not change the way we approach them.  “If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we always got.”

Very, very simple.  #THINK.DIFFERENT.

(Slide 50)  THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT!!! Innovation is happening all around us.  It is evening happening in this room at this very second.  Someone in here could have the next “big thing” when i comes to maintenance and management.  Genetics are improving. Science is evolving.  The human mind is thinking.  We all are communicating as ONE unified industry.  #THINK.DIFFERENT. Grass fields CAN take more.

ESSMA Head Grounds Manager Seminar Keynote

ESSMA Head Grounds Manager Seminar Keynote

ESSMA Head Grounds Managers Summary

The ESSMA Head Grounds Managers Seminar took place in Porto, Portugal on Oct. 9 & 10.  The seminar as ESSMA’s second such event, the first being at FC Barcelona in 2012.

Estadio Dragao, Porto FC

Estadio Dragao, Porto FC

THANK YOU to ESSMA, the expert pitch committee, and the stadium partners CampeyImants, EVERRIS, DESSO GrassMaster, SGL and TERRAPLAS for asking me to be present at the seminar at the Estadio Dragao, home of FC Porto.  It was an honor to become the first American to take part in an ESSMA event.  Hopefully it is just the first of many!

Secondly, and equally as important, THANK YOU to the participants who came from far and wide to Porto to be part of the ESSMA Head Grounds Managers seminar. This being my first opportunity to share at an event outside the United States, the nervousness in preparation for the event came from the fear of the unknown.  Yet amazingly, it only took my introduction  to the group to make it clear….  American, German, Russian, Ukrainian, British, Dutch, French, Belgian, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian….  no matter the nationality,  no matter the language:  We Are All The Same!!  And in the grass field management industry, we are all facing the same type of challenges.

WOW!  What a POWERFUL realization.

Even with over 10 languages represented in the room, we all were united as one with one goal; to share and creating new ideas about the possibilities of grass fields.

So THANK YOU to all the participants who also moved past any nervousness and/or fears of the unknown to open up, share, and spread their experiences and their passion with the world.

Congratulations to each of the people that shared during the 2 day event.

Mr. Jonathan Calderwood, Head Grounds Manager of Paris St. Germain (France)
– Welcome remarks and background on ESSMA Pitch Management

Mr. Sebastian Breuing, Head Grounds Manager of Vfl Bochum (Germany)
– “Budget Control on Pitch Management”

Mr. Luis Silva, COO of Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
– “Preparation for the 2014 World Cup”

Mr. Maxim Kobzin, Head Grounds Manager at Donbass Arena (Ukraine)
– “New Season Preparations”

I also had the privilege to share on Thursday in addition to my Keynote
“Intergration of European and American Maintenance Techniques”

A special feature of the program was a round table debate that featured the stadium partners exploring the globalization of the grass field industry and issues that Grounds Managers face around the world.    Thank you to the participants of that round table for allowing me to moderate their session and for answering the questions presented so openly and candidly.

Mr. Simon Gumbrill: Campey/ Imants (Cultivation/ Renovation Tools)
Mr. Yves DeCocker: Desso Grass Master (Sand Stability System)
Ms. Ellie Parry: Everris (Fertilizer/ Seed)
Mr. Pierre Debleme: Terraplas (Field Protection System)
Mr. Xavi Tordera- SGL (Stadium Grow Lights)

Stadium Partner Debate

Stadium Partner Debate

Many, many Thanks to Mr. Ricardo Carvalho of FC Porto for hosting, sharing with, and leading the tour of the ESSMA group.  Also Thank You  Mr. Miguel Bastos and Mr. Manuel Pedro Melo for presenting some of their maintenance information for the pitch at Estadio Dragao and at the FC Porto Training Ground.

Mr. Ricardo Carvalho, FC Porto

Mr. Ricardo Carvalho, FC Porto

And finally, applause for the entire ESSMA staff for organizing such a tremendous event.  Every detail was covered, from arrival through departure.  Even the social component of port wine tasting  & dinner w gorgeous views of historic Porto was magnificent.   Cheers to Mr. Dimitri Huygen, Mr. Jan Stryckers, and Mr. Kevin Raveyts.  Bravo to them and their support staff for all the hard work!

Events like the Head Grounds Managers seminar are laying the ground work for the great things ahead, not only for grass fields but for our entire world in general.  Thank You again to everyone involved for their open minds, their energy, and for their commitment to making natural grass fields around the world as strong and durable as they can possible be.

More to come on the content of the seminar, along with the transcript of the keynote speech:  “#Think.Different”