The popularity of hashtag holidays on social meeting continues to grow. Have you ever participated in any of these?
#MM: Motivational Monday
#TT: Tip Tuesday
#WW: Wednesday wisdom
#TBT: Throw back Thursday
#FF: Follow Friday
Hashtags are a great tool to bring excitement and awareness to so many different things. Then how about a hashtag to share the fantastic work that you and other Sports Turf Managers do each and every day on natural grass fields around the world?
Introducing #GFFF: #Grass Field Foto Friday. Starting with Friday tomorrow (today already on the other side of the world) through the month of September, use the hashtag #GFFF: Grass Field Foto Friday, and share your favorite grass field pictures. Post “fotos” that showcase the art and mastery of your work… making natural grass fields fantastic! Game fields, practice fields, fields even in your back yard… show off your work!! Share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media platform you might use. Share and be proud of your hard work and reinforce the professionalism of yourself and Sports Turf Managers around the world!
The final Friday of September, September 26th, can be the climax of #GFFF as “International Grass Field Foto Friday”. Through the next 4 Fridays, together we can build up to that international day with promoting participation around the globe!!
Why now? Late August & early September is the prime time for natural grass fields around the world. With the start of American football and proper football (soccer) around the rest of the world, Major League and Minor League baseball in the home stretch, and American and J-League soccer with a few months left… we are at a point that many outdoor sports are in season. Use that advantage to showcase your great work and build awareness for the possibilities of natural grass fields produced by you and all Sports Turf Managers!!
#GFFF: Grass Field Foto Friday. Join in tomorrow!!
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 %.
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.
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
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 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.
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 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
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 Regenerate
Sun Setting Following Seeding of Ryegrass Progresses
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!
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.”
Every month or so it seems Sports Turf Managers are being inundated with information regarding the viability and cost effectiveness of artificial turf. This information is often disseminated by those who have the most to gain from such information, the artificial turf manufacturers themselves. There is a growing group of Sports Turf Managers led by Jerad Minnick at the Maryland Soccer Plex who are proving time and again that “Grass Fields CAN Take More Traffic”. Jerad maintains a blog Growing Green Grass that chronicles the innovation going on in our industry. The latest and most intriguing of them is the concept of Fraze Mowing.
Below are a handful of practices that if implemented will allow grass fields to take more traffic.
Aerification/ Cultivation. I’m already on the record as being a huge proponent of aerification (see the Harrell’s May 2013 Front Porch Blog) but there is a lot more to it than just core aerification. Slicing, spiking, solid tine or even fraze mowing, which I’ve never actually done, but the pictures I’ve seen speak for themselves, as often as possible will also help a field hold up to heavy traffic.
Nutrient Management including the use of controlled release fertilizers, like Polyon, and plant growth regulators. These tools when used properly will maximize the turf’s ability to take up nutrients and use those nutrients to synthesize the carbohydrates needed to withstand traffic.
Field Rotation. Moving or resizing fields to spread wear will greatly increase a grass field’s ability to withstand heavy traffic. Manage the wear, don’t let me manage you.
Sports Turf Managers are doing revolutionary things to insure that their grass fields CAN take more. Is it time for you to join the revolution?