With those keys, here are some more fun facts are provided us by the Lawn Institute:
– The front lawns of eight average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons (68 metric tons) of air conditioning, while the average home-size central air has only a 3 to 4 ton capacity (2.7 to 3.9 metric tons).
– In a well maintained, thick 10,000 square foot (929 square meter) lawn there will be 6 turf plants per square inch (25.4 millimeters), 850 turf plants per square foot (30.45 square meters) for a total of 8.5 million turf plants.
– A lawn, 50 by 50 feet releases enough oxygen for a family of four, while absorbing carbon dioxide, ozone, hydrogen fluoride, and peroxyacetyl nitrate.
– A dense, healthy lawn prevents run-off, absorbing rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field.
– Grass plants are 75 to 80% water, by weight.
– Up to 90% of the weight of a grass plant is in its roots.
– Grass clippings are approximately 90% water, by weight.
– Clippings contain nutrients useable to the grass, when left on the lawn.
– Turfgrass helps control pollution, trapping much of an estimated 12 million tons (10.9 million metric tons) of dust and dirt released annually into the US atmosphere.
– As part of a well-designed and maintained landscape, turfgrass increases a home’s property value by 15 to 20 %.
We at Growing Green Grass respect Notre Dame’s decision to do as they please, but the reason for the change must be challenged.
Graduation in May is being blamed for a poor field in the fall. A field damaged by graduation May can be re-sodded or even re-seeded and be in perfect condition within weeks. Notre Dame being unable to achieve perfect condition is not the grass field’s fault. It is a simple management issue. Improved management approaches arise daily. Technology is surging in the natural grass industry: stability/ reinforcement, improved genetics, lights to grow grass in total darkness and cold, etc, etc. Any of these tools could have served as tools to help the field management staff as cheaper alternatives to artificial turf.
Again… it is Notre Dame’s decision to do as they please with their field. But blaming graduation in May for a poor quality field in the fall is just an excuse.
This response comes from Growing Green Grass because that excuse is damaging to the every grass field in the world. That excuse makes it seem that no grass field can survive extra use. The excuse makes managing grass fields at the grass roots level seem impossible! How can soccer clubs, little leagues, parks and recreation, etc with small budgets even have a good grass field when Notre Dame can not.
The fact is that grass fields around the world sustain 10x the use and wear that Notre Dame Stadium sustains in 1 year. And hard working sports field managers produce high quality grass, even in the north, with that use and wear. This story from the Las Vegas Review Journal highlights the success of one of those hard working Sports Field Managers. Kudos to Kevin Moses for his hard work!!! (and thank you to Darian Daily for sharing the link on Facebook as well!)
We wish Notre Dame all the best in their endeavors. But again, it’s not the existing grass field’s fault that you want to make a change to artificial.
This blog has evolved into an idea sharing tool for natural grass fields more so than a personal blog for my own. But tonight I want to share something personal. Today, March 25, 2014, is National Agriculture Day here in the USA. National Agriculture Day is “to celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture” to the entire world. This year’s theme is “365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed”. See this video:
It is appropriate for this blog to encourage the celebration of National Agriculture Day because we as turfgrass managers are part of the American agriculture society. Certainly we are not providing food, clothes, and durable good for every single person in this entire world like the American farmer. But we are growing plants, interacting with nature, and improving the environment. Here in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, turfgrass is the #1 “crop” grown in the region equaling 3.8 million acres. Amazing! Well done to each and every turfgrass manager out there.. lawns, sports, golf.. even the do it yourself homeowner!
But National Agriculture Day is personal to me because I am a product of the abundance provided by American agriculture. Because of my slick shoes and fancy suits, it likely comes as a surprise to many… I grew up on a family farm in the middle of north central Missouri’s fertile agricultural region. My family still operates that farm today. And they will continue to do so for generations to come, just as so many other American family farms (87% of farms are family farms).
Why do they choose that life? Simple. Because the demand on American agriculture is huge. Currently, there are over 313 million people in the United States. Out of all of those people, less than 1% are farmers. By 2050, agriculture production must double to meet the demand by you.. me.. your kids.. my kids.. and the other 9.6 billion people who will be living on our planet in 2050.
Yes, I said production must DOUBLE! Yes.. Increase by 100%. Wow! With less than 1% of the population involved, that kind of production increase will be IMPOSSIBLE! Right??
Thankfully, IMPOSSIBLE doesn’t exist to American agriculture. That demand will be met. Guaranteed. How do I know? Because I have experienced the spirit of the American agriculture personally. At 62 years old, my father has never really taken a single day off. Even with a rare muscle disease that has tried to hold him back, he has never stopped working. I have travelled over 50,000 miles in the last year. Stood beneath the Eiffel Tower… gazed atop a skyscraper in Tokyo… watched the sun set off the California coast. And all the while, my dad has been out there in “flyover country” (the preferred term of so many of my “big city” friends to describe those”red states” out there with nothing in them) just working away. And my mom is there supporting him. My grandpa worked the same way his entire life. Never, ever, ever have I heard them complain. Never in my life have I heard them say “I can’t”. Never in my life have I witnessed them cut a corner or take the easy way out of a challenge. Never in my life have I known them to see anything as IMPOSSIBLE.
Making the impossible possible is what the American agriculture does. And THAT is the spirit that National Ag Day celebrates.
And THAT is why I am thankful to be a product of American agriculture. Growing up on a farm is absolutely a different life. Waking up early, working late until you are too tired to go anymore.. and then going for another 2 hours, and always having to find a way to do a job by yourself that should take 3 people. Being part of less than 1% of American people isn’t easy. But it taught me lessons that I appreciate and use daily!
People ask me where I get some of my crazy ideas. Or why my big push is to encourage others to realize that Nelson Mandela was right when he said “It Always Seems Impossible Until Its Done”. Or my favorite.. “Impossible Is Not Something That Can Not Be Done, It Is Just Something That Has Not Been Done Yet”. Being a product of America agriculture, I know no other way of thinking. I appreciate and THANK YOU for letting me share that spirit with you on this blog. The spirit of making the impossible possible. The spirit of American agriculture.
Happy National Agriculture Day! Please THANK an American farmer!
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
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.
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.
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
(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:
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!
Md. turf guru makes history as keynote at top European groundskeepers seminar
By Charles Boehm
WASHINGTON – The U.S. soccer community often looks east to Europe for information and inspiration, and the game’s leading groundskeepers tend to do the same.
But this week an American turfgrass guru will be the star speaker at one of Europe’s biggest meetings of professional groundskeepers, sharing the philosophies and skills he’s developed over 15 years of managing sports fields in this country’s heartland.
On Wednesday, Maryland SoccerPlex sports turf manager Jerad Minnick will deliver the keynote address at the European Stadium and Safety Management Association’s head grounds manager seminar in Porto, Portugal.
ESSMA is a partner organization of UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations) and Minnick can expect a warm welcome as he discusses the “grass field revolution” he sees unfolding across the sports world amid new technologies for growing, maintaining and regenerating natural surfaces.
“We need to keep growing innovation and spreading a positive message about the possibilities of grass fields,” Minnick told SoccerWire.com via email over the weekend. “The more idea-sharing and technology we employ, the bigger the possibilities become.
“My keynote is taking that a bit further to encourage and illustrate the importance to ‘think different.’”
While such appearances tend to suggest peak mastery in one’s field, Minnick approaches his work from a humble, curious perspective, regularly praising his European counterparts’ high levels of expertise and ingenuity. So he’s making practical use of his trans-Atlantic trip by visiting a long list of top stadiums and sports facilities in England and Spain over the course of two weeks.
Minnick visited with his colleagues at London’s colossal Wembley Stadium, home of the English national team, and attended the NFL game that took place there on Sept. 29, then hustled through an ambitious itinerary that included the homes and/or training facilities of the Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday football clubs as well as the Headingley Carnegie and Twickenham rugby stadiums, the Sports Turf Research Institute and St. George’s Park, the chief training center of the English Football Association.
And on his way to Portugal, he also stopped in at Real Madrid to visit Paul Burgess, a friend who serves as “chief of pitch maintenance” at the Spanish powerhouse.
It’s a turf pilgrimage of sorts that’s become an annual practice for Minnick, who routinely works wonders on the SoccerPlex’s showcase stadium, Maureen Hendricks Field (home of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit), as well as the 21 high-quality fields that surround it.
“The best part of visiting colleagues is how warm and open they are,” he wrote to SoccerWire.com. “It’s just a lot to have an American come in and want to talk and share when they are in the heart of the season and winter preparation is taking place. For example: Mr. [Anthony] Stones at Wembley had just hosted American football the night before. Mr. [Paul] Ashcroft at Emirates [Stadium] was hosting training for the Italian team [Napoli] Arsenal was playing the next night in Champions League.
“Every training ground was either hosting training or preparing for training. The Leeds Rugby guys were preparing for a big game that night. Etc, etc. And for me, that’s what is most helpful; everyone being open and sharing ideas when under the highest demands. Every field I saw was in immaculate shape. And every head grounds manager had a positive and driven attitude.”
Though three of his his facility’s fields feature artificial turf, Minnick is a devoted advocate of natural surfaces and urges his industry to put aside old ideas about the levels of traffic and use that grass can bear.
“Several head grounds managers around the world are proving that so much more is possible, many times at LESS expense!!” Minnick explained.
“Ultimately, my keynote is about the bright future for our industry…Soon the answer to the questions about grass fields will turn from ‘Grass can’t take it’ to the question instead being, ‘How many more events can we manage this year?’”
With the phrase “Evolution is changing the answer. A revolution is changing the question,” as his mantra, Minnick hails the work of several European companies who are designing specialized new methods and equipment to maintain top-quality grass fields that allow for more hours of play – and under more demanding conditions – than ever.
“Any industry improves by sharing ideas and communicating,” he said. “Our industry is the same. And the field quality across the UK illustrates that.
“[Apple co-founder] Steve Jobs talked about how important it is for people to collect new experiences and learn other perspectives in order to create innovation. Well, when these guys open their time and share and show me around, it hopefully leads to more innovation for SoccerPlex and for American grass fields.”
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
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
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!
Jerad Minnick has never calculated the point of diminishing returns as it relates to the cost of seed at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but he knows he hasn’t come close to reaching it yet.
Minnick, head groundskeeper at the 22-field complex in Boyds, Md., since 2009, renovated the facility’s main stadium field last year, with Barenbrug’s Turf Blue Kentucky bluegrass that is enhanced with HGT technology. At $4 per pound, the seed, he says, is worth every penny.
The selection of HGT, which stands for Healthy Grass Technology, along with Jump Start Kentucky bluegrass and a regimen of agronomic practices that he learned overseas, have helped Minnick, 34, produce mid-season playing conditions that he didn’t realize were possible on cool-season turf.
“Grass can take a lot more traffic than we give it credit for,” Minnick said.
“We’ve played 120 events on the stadium field, and you can’t tell it’s been played on.”
Barenbrug’s HGT (Healthy Grass Technology), which entered the market in 2011, was developed from naturally stress-tolerant plants. Its traits include improved heat and wear tolerance, rapid establishment and quick recovery.
The stadium field at the Maryland SoccerPlex was ready for play 35 days after seeding. Thanks to a program of aggressive agronomic practices, he’s been able to keep it in like-new condition.
Within 60 days of seeding, the complex had hosted several tournaments, including the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s championship that was decided on the stadium field 75 days after seeding. Minnick now uses HGT on the other cool-season fields at the complex as well.
Hundreds of games each year are played at the 160-acre complex that includes 10 cool-season turfgrass fields, nine Bermudagrass fields and three that are carpeted with synthetic turf. The complex near Washington, D.C., is open every day except New Year’s, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and keeping the fields ready for play at all times is critical.
“If it snows in December, January or February, we have to clear it immediately and get it open,” said Minnick, who has managed the fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex since 2009.
Producing championship conditions is as much about agronomic practices as it is turf selection.
“Aggressive cultivation is the key,” Minnick said. “Each field has something done to it every two weeks. We have an aerifier and a verticutter running all the time. That is how we keep grass on our fields.”
Minnick earned a bachelor’s degree in turfgrass science at the University Missouri and was in his last semester of graduate school in 2002 when he accepted a job with the Kansas City Royals. He spent 2007-09 across town prepping with Sporting KC, Kansas City’s Major League Soccer franchise.
Since heading the soccer complex, Minnick has visited dozens of European soccer facilities. While overseas, he met people like Simon Gumbrill from Campey Turfcare and Barclays Premier League groundskeepers Paul Burgess of Real Madrid and Steve Braddock of Arsenal. Each taught him various things about the European way to manage turf, which includes regular agronomic practices throughout the playing season.
For example, Braddock said he runs a deep tine aerifier over Arsenal’s practice fields on a monthly basis, alternating between depths of 6 inches to 10 to 12 inches throughout the playing season. When the season is over, he scrapes the field clean of its cover using the Imants Koro Field Topmaker in a process called Fraze mowing and establishes a new field for the next season.
This process removes all organic matter from the surface and each year results in improved drainage at the surface, Braddock said. It’s a philosophy that is not taught at U.S. turf schools, but it is something that is widely used by turf managers in other parts of the world.
“All my practices have been self taught using what I believe is common sense over the years.” Braddock said.
“My belief is that practical experience is more beneficial as the person can see what tasks they are carrying out will have a positive impact on the surface and learning about how important timing can be when conducting tasks.”
Minnick wasn’t a believer at first, but he is now. His program in Maryland includes aggressive agronomic practices throughout the playing season, including almost constant aerification except during the most extreme summer conditions. He renovates the stadium field each year and uses the Fraze mowing method on actively growing Bermudagrass. The process removes thatch, ryegrass, Poa annua and leaves Bermudagrass stolons exposed. Scarifying in two directions promotes better lateral growth of the Bermudagrass. Minnick rotates through the other cool-season and warm-season fields, renovating several each year. He doesn’t yet renovate all every year, but, as he says, “we are moving in that direction.”
“I didn’t think it was possible either seven or eight years ago,” he said. “The fields we do the most to always look the best.
“To me, the biggest mistakes people make are too much water, too much nitrogen and not enough aerification. Granted, I’m not going to do it if it is 105 degrees outside. We were still solid tining to open the organic layer when we broke a record for most consecutive hours above 80 degrees.”
It has come as no surprise to Erik Ervin, Ph.D., who was a professor at Missouri when Minnick was a student there, that his former pupil has adopted such revolutionary tactics.
“Jerad was not your usual undergrad,” said Ervin, who is now a professor at Virginia Tech. “He was a polite young man who introduced himself right away and asked insightful questions. He was a leader in our turf club, and I was not surprised to follow his success as we both moved from Missouri to the East Coast for promotions. Jerad is willing to try new things, but reads, discusses and experiments before going all in with his unique turf care practices.”
Minnick maintains the stadium field at nine-sixteenths of an inch and the other cool-season surfaces at heights of 1 to 1.75 inches.
“I like to manipulate the turf,” he said. “If you add a quarter inch, that’s 25 percent more photosynthetic surface.
“I try not to mow as much, but I don’t shy away from cultural practices.”
The Bermuda fields at the complex, which include Patriot, are overseeded with a mix of Barenbrug’s SOS and RPR ryegrasses, are maintained at a height of about one-half inch during the summer when they subjected to 40 hours of play per week.
“We load them up in the summer,” Minnick said. “Summer camps are big for us. Kids are on those fields from 9 to 5, and the Bermuda is perfect. It doesn’t wear out.”
Adopting new methods of doing things is nothing new for Minnick. He currently is evaluating HGT Kentucky bluegrass as an overseed option, and also is evaluating performance characteristics of several vareities of Bermudagrass, including Patriot, Latitude 36, NorthBridge and Riveria. He believes looking for better ways to produce healthy, stress-tolerant playing surfaces quickly should be the norm, not the exception.
“Why are we still talking about all of these old ideas? We need to get rid of them. If we continue to learn new things, thinking like this will be the norm in five years.
“Some people say it is far-fetched, but others in other parts of the world have been doing it this way for a long time. In Europe, it’s been mostly on ryegrass. In Australia it’s been on Bermuda. When we take it to bluegrass, yes, we’re setting new trends. I like to think of the day when people will look back and think of when they thought grass couldn’t take a lot of traffic.”