SGL MasterClass Wrap Up

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MasterClass 2016 proved to be a thought provoking and educational event. MasterClass is an invitation only, education event put on by Stadium Grow Light (SGL) specifically for their over 180 stadium customers around the globe to come together. 2016 MasterClass was entitled “Back to the Future” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the unique event. MasterClass #1 was also held in Holland, Home of SGL.  A full detailed break down of the event can be experienced here on the live blog of MasterClass 2016, “Back to the Future”.

Day 1 of MasterClass took place at the world famous Amsterdam Arena. Day 2 featured a visit to Porta Nova, the 25 acre rose growing operation that has been in SGL inventor Nico van Vuuren’s family since the 1890’s. At Porta Nova, MasterClass participants also were exposed to ongoing research being done by the SGL agronomy team. After Porta Nova, MasterClass moved to Rotterdam, Holland’s Feyenoord Stadium for a pitch tour and to wrap up the education and sharing.

Let’s look at some of the key thoughts and points of the events education and sharing:

IMPROVEMENT: SGL is the world leader in the supplemental light technology sector, a sector that they (SGL) created. Supplemental light research and technology reached the sales market during the early 2000’s when SGL successfully completed its first trial at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in the UK. Since they have grown to have over 180 stadiums around the world using supplemental light for natural grass growth and recovery. But even as the world leader, SGL continues to evolve and improve.

Three examples of that improvement were on display at MasterClass:

LU440: The LU440 is a new, full size light unit with aluminum construction. The aluminum reduces the overall weight of the unit dramatically. It also allows the unit to fold up much easier, which saves time on set up and break down of light rig. The LU440 overall is a dramatic improvement on an already fantastic full size light unit, the MU360. While the LU440 is still in limited supply, the MU360 is still am amazing tool for supplying supplemental light!

IQ55: The IQ55 was considered by many as the star of MasterClass 2016. The IQ55 is a full climate controlled tent unit to provide natural grass field managers with a tool to control all components of plant growth. Temperature, humidity, moisture, CO2, O2, light… any and all factors leading to plant growth, health, and recovery… can be controlled with an automated system. And all of it mounted on a standard, MU50 type light rig frame for simple movement. As the playing season now is nearly year round, the IQ55 provides a tool that can support growth and recovery at any time.

Modeling Improvements/ Additional of Disease Pressure: SGL provides a high level of data and support models to its clients around the world. The model inputs include hours of play, weather conditions, and the expectation of field quality to dictate potential fertilizer needs and to supply the needed hours of lighting. SGL agronomists and engineers continue to evolve the growth and lighting models to best to supply clients with the correct lighting recipe to 1) use the light amount of light required and 2) meet the demands of field quality set by the client. A new addition to the models this year is disease modeling and alerting. The models will provide clients with on-demand data on potential diseases that their fields could be prone to. This data will greatly reduce the guessing that sometimes goes into spraying for disease suppression.
TECHNOLOGY: Technology is always evolving and improving. Especially with products involving energy and light. SGL is working closely with several companies to provide the latest in lighting innovation. These include the world leader in lighting, Phillips.

LED: LED is the most popular topic in the world in reference to lighting. Where LED is breaking into the stadium flood lighting market, for plant growth (and specifically grass growth) LED is still in development. The SGL research and development team is working closely with the green house development team at Porta Nova rose green houses to create the best system possible for LED and plant growth. The LED light spectrum can provide plants light. But heat is needed in combination with light to provide the most efficient growth. Currently the high pressure sodium lights provide that needed heat. Eliminating the high pressure sodium bulbs could reduce energy use, but then infrared heat is required to be added to provide the best growing conditions. The additional infrared heat actually increases overall energy costs.
In the end, it seems some sort of hybrid option with a mix of LED and high pressure sodium will be worked out. But as demands on natural grass increase, the need for light intensity and heat increases as well to encourage regeneration of the grass plants.  IMG_0598

IQ55: Back to the IQ55. The technology involved in the IQ55 controlled growing environment is a new level for anything ever seen in turfgrass growth. The automated sensor system inside the IQ55 allows a natural grass field manager to have complete control of the growing environment. Though somewhat small compared to a full size field, the IQ55 is large enough to treat and repair quickly high traffic areas such as the front of a baseball infield, between the hash marks on an American football field, or through the PK area on a soccer field. As the IQ series evolves, this will become a valued tool to win against high use.

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INNOVATION: To innovate is defined as to “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”. SGL was founded on innovation when it introduced the first supplemental turfgrass grow lighting solution into the market. No longer were shade or short day length limiting factors for natural grass growth. New solution, old problems.

Innovation is again a description with the UVC180 introduction. Turfgrass managers spend more time on disease pressure/ disease management than about any other turfgrass challenge. Many times budgets for fungicides match or even dwarf other budget categories. Thus, the potential that UV light could treat diseases to reduce the stress on turfgrass managers and/or reduce their budgets is ground shaking. No doubt there is much more to come in reference to UV light and diseases, but the initial introduction is extremely exciting!!!

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SGL MasterClass certainly was the thought provoking and educational event that participants had hoped for. Well done SGL, and CONGRATULATIONS on 10 years of such a unique and successful educational event.

FOR THE TIMELINE OF THE ENTIRE EVENT, VISIT HERE

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Always Improving! University of Portland’s Merlo Field Universe Fraze Mow #2 Results

This week University of Portland’s Merlo Field became the first cool season turfgrass field in the United States to employ Universe Fraze Mowing for a second time.  In April, 2014, Field Manager Jordon Montgomery also was the first, as the first ever USA Field Manager to turn to the process for cool season turfgrass to remove:

70% poa annua population
– 1″ layer of thatch
– Reduce a thick layer of organic matter accumulated on the top of the sand based soil

The 2015 results of the Universe Fraze Mowing process were superb.

Universe Fraze Mowing of Merlo Field, U of Portland

Universe Fraze Mowing of Merlo Field, U of Portland

Poa Annua Plants Removed From Strong Stand of #RPP Ryegrass and #HGT Kentucky bluegrass

Poa Annua Plants Removed From Strong Stand of #RPP Ryegrass and #HGT Kentucky bluegrass

Poa Annua Patch Removed

Poa Annua Patch Removed

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Poa Annua plants and seed have been removed, along with 2014’s thatch and organic build up to keep the field surface from becoming slick.  Now new ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass seed will be sewed.  But even more importantly for durability and increased field use, the improved turfgrass varieties of RPR Ryegrass and HGT Kentucky bluegrass seeded last year following the Universe Fraze Mow can re-generate.  This will encourage the grasses to spread, ultimately increasing the tensile strength of the base surface to reduce divoting and wear.

2014 reduced the poa annua population from 70% to 20%.

2014 Merlo Field Before Universe Fraze Mowing w/ 70% Poa Annua

2014 Merlo Field Before Universe Fraze Mowing w/ 70% Poa Annua

2015 Poa Reduction and Surface Improvement

2015 Poa Reduction and Surface Improvement

The 1″ thatch layer was also removed along with the top of a thick organic layer.  The removal yielded a dramatically better playing surface.  The clean and re-generated surface is tight and strong, leading to nearly no divoting even when being used in the rain.  After 3 months of camps in Summer of 2014, a full men’s and women’s college schedule in the fall, and 13 spring matches, the field was nearly perfect when the 2015 Universe Fraze Mowing took place.

Thick, Dense Stand Even Through Goal Areas After 13 Spring Matches,  Full Men's and Women's Season in the Fall, and Summer Camps in June, July, and August

Thick, Dense Stand Monday, Even Through Goal Areas After 13 Spring Matches, Full Men’s and Women’s Season in the Fall, and Summer Camps in June, July, and August

When Merlo Field is/ was in such excellent condition and the poa annua had been dramatically reduced, why Universe Fraze Mowing in 2015?

Simple.  Improvement.

From Field Manager Jordon Montgomery… “We want to continue to improve the playing surface while increasing use. The introduction Portland Timbers 2, the USL pro team calling Merlo Field home is an example of that.  All our home teams and events need the best playing surface we can provide while being environmentally and budget conscious.  That all leads to Universe Fraze Mowing”.  

#GrassCanTakeMore.

AMAZING EVOLUTION & Quick History!  Universe fraze mowing cool season turfgrass was first performed at Paris St-Germain’s Parc des Princes Stadium in July of 2013.  New Head Groundsman Jonathan Calderwood chose the bold method, previously only used in the United States on bermudagrass, to remove the poa annua plants in his pitch and leave behind the existing desirable Kentucky bluegrass and Ryegrass.

PSG Renovation July 2013 (32)

So yes… Universe Fraze Mowing is DIFFERENT than basic fraise mowing.  Fraise mowing was introduced in 1996 by Mr. Ko Rodenburg, Superintendent of Parks Maintenance in Rotterdam, Holland when he invited the KORO Field Topmaker.  Rodenburg invented the machine to clean the poa annua seed off the top of his playing fields and to encourage some basic regeneration.  Fraise mowing was born!

With the introduction of the KORO Universe® Rotor for the Field Topmaker in winter of 2012-2013; allowing stolons and rhizomes on spreading grasses to remain while removing organic, thatch, and weed seed; lead to Universe Fraze Mowing directly from this blog to Mr. Allen Reed and Mr. Miles Studhalter’s bermuda fields at FC Dallas.  See for details: Summary of a new concept; Fraze Mowing & Concept to Active Practice; Fraze Mowing Debuts at FC Dallas.   The use on bermudagrass had started, then Mr. Calderwood working with Mr. Simon Gumbrill from Campey Turf Care, took the lessons from bermudagrass and implemented them to cool season. Now Jordon Montgomery in Portland as taken it even further with repeated use.  AMAZING how it continues to evolve with creative minded Field Managers ready and willing to try to new things!  #GrassCanTakeMore!

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.

Key #1: Aggressive Cultivation

3 Keys to High Quality, High Traffic Grass Fields 


(Note:  3 Keys To High Quality, High Traffic Natural Grass fields is copyright of the Natural Grass Advisory Group and Growing Innovations).  

Key #1:  Aggressive Cultivation 

Concentrated foot traffic can quickly compact soil on grass fields. Compaction eliminates air space and leads to suffocating roots. The gasping roots weaken and the sword of grass to begins to thin out. Thinning, along with a sod or organic layer compound compaction leading to divots and blowouts.   Weak roots require additional hydration, yet water from irrigation and rainfall is not able to penetrate the compacted soils easily. A compacted field surface is a Sports Field Managers nightmare!

Cultivation solves the problems caused by compaction and yields increased turfgrass density and decreased water usage. Because water is better able to move through the soil profile, it also decreases the number of events cancelled due to rainfall.

However, on a high traffic field, the traditional “basic” approach to cultivation of a few times a year is NOT enough. A field under continual foot traffic requires continual aggressiveness with cultivation.

Yes, historically it has been taught that cultivation only needs to take place these few times a year.  And many times cultivation is avoided in a fear of actually causing more damage to a field. Especially during times that the field in experiencing heavy use. However we know the damage that compaction and surface hardness can cause.  Now GMax, compaction testing, and infiltration rate data all paints the picture for us even more clearly.

Limited, conservative cultivation has lead to the current public perception that natural grass surfaces can NOT sustain heavy use, need long periods of rest, and are rained out easily.  AvoidIng the fear to be aggressive while using good judgement on how and when now has evidence on counteracting those compaction issues and actually increase use on a grass field.

“Inaction may be safe, but it builds nothing.” Dave Freudenthal.  And if “you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” Albert Einstein

Compacted soil on sideline of field showing last cultivation practice

Dictionary.com defines the word “aggressive” as “vigorously energetic, especially in the use of initiative and forcefulness”. This definition is an excellent outline to use in your decision making towards cultivation. A cultivation program should be “vigorously energetic”: implemented a minimum of 2-4 times per month. It should show “initiative and forcefulness”: taking place in short windows of opportunity between events and in conditions that may not typically be seen as ideal. This could mean cultivating cool season in the heat or working all night right after an event in order to utilize a short break completely. Finding time when it seems that there is no time.

 Examples:
FC Dallas Stadium, a high traffic soccer and football field (2011 STMA Professional Soccer FOY) sets the standard for what it means to be “aggressive”. Sports Field Manager Allen Reed aerates his field every Monday.  See More Here In a Feature He Shared With Us:  How Our Grass Field Takes More!

Elsewhere, Ryan Bjorn at Maryland SoccerPlex has a minimum of 1 operator continually  cultivating the 19 natural grass fields he oversees.  The non-stop process equates to a 7-10 day cycle between cultivation on fields that host over 350 events apiece each year from soccer, lacrosse, and sports camps. SoccerPlex Stadium was 2014 STMA Professional Soccer Field of the Year, making it one of the most high traffic fields to ever win the professional award.  Read More Here:  Turning Green Into Gold, Maryland SoccerPlex 

At Sporting Kansas City’s Swope Park Training Center fields, placed under high demands as well, Justin Bland never allows the fields to pass a cultivation window of 14 days.  With this approach, Sporting (then the Wizards) won STMA Professional Soccer Field of the Year in 2010 on the stadium field hosting both professional baseball AND professional soccer.  Read More Here:  Wizards Grounds Crew Earns FOY

Nationals Park in Washington, DC hosts Major League Baseball, concerts, and a variety of cooperate and community events.  John Turnour utilizes a form of cultivation between every single home stand.  He even sometimes doubles up on his cultivation practices and averages nearly 3x per month.

This aggressive cultivation keeps grass fields from experiencing turfgrass decline due to compaction. It also keeps water moving vertically through the field’s soil profile, increasing irrigation efficiency and reducing rainouts.


There are many forms and options for cultivation practices.  Here is an introduction to a few of those:

De-compaction Aeration
De-compaction aeration is one of the basic and accepted forms of cultivation. De-compaction aeration breaks up compaction deep in the soil, 8 to 10” deep. De-compaction aeration promotes water movement through the soil profile and allows roots to grow deep and strong. Two examples of de-compaction aeration are:

Soil Wave

Soil wave de-compaction following Universe fraze mow on bermudgrass

Soil wave de-compaction following Universe fraze mow on bermudagrass

Deep tine

Deep tine aeration

Deep tine aeration

Deep tine and core aeration in conjunction w/ one another on heavy compacted clay

Deep tine and core aeration in conjunction w/ one another on heavy compacted clay

Surface Aeration
Surface aeration another basic and accepted form of cultivation. Rapid tine aeration machines can make shallow tightly spaced holes to open the surface and allow air into the soil. Needle tines, knife tines, cross tines, etc all offer different options. Coring tines not only open the surface, they remove organic build up and reduce layering from sod. Slicing and spiking also open the surface as well.

Surface aeration via core aeration w/ rapid tine aerators

Rapid tine aeration w solid tines to vent surface following heavy play

Rapid tine aeration w solid tines to vent surface following heavy play

Aerway Surface Slicer

Aerway Surface Slicer

Recycle Dressing
Recycle dressing comes from a machine invented my Mr. Ko Rodenberg, former Superintendent of Park Maintenance in Rotterdam, Holland. All in one pass, the machine is able to accomplish both de-compaction and surface aeration. The recycler de-compacts the sub soil by removing soil with cutting blades. The surface soil is then opened up with slicing blades. Finally the machine “recycles” the removed material over the top of the surface as topdressing to be dragged back in.

Recycler dressing to de-compact and open the surface

Recycle dressing lines following dragging in sand

Recycle dressing lines from small blades on ryegrass following dragging in sand

Recycling dresser lines from big blades on Latitude bermudagrass following dragging

Recycling dresser lines from big blades on Latitude bermudagrass following dragging in sand

 Air Injection Aeration
Another unique and new form of aeration comes from air injection. Air injection machines force high-pressure air into the soil profile much like the former Toro hydroject force high- pressure water into the soil. The force of the air fractures even the hardest of soils to promote de-compaction and to re-introduce air into the profile.

Air Injection Machine

Brushing
Brushing is a very simple practice, but the results can pay dividends. Brushing stands up the grass and fluffs a good amount of thatch to the top of the canopy. Blowing, sweeping, and/ or catching clippings will help when there is a large amount of material brought up.

Brushing to bring up thatch

Verticutting
Verticutting is another basic and accepted from of cultivation for the attempted control of thatch and organic build up. Verticutting also promotes density and durability. Standard verticutting removes around 11% of the material, so use this practice as much as possible. Especially on actively growing bermudagrass.

Verticutting Kentucky bluegrass

Universe Fraze Mowing
With the statistic of standard verticutting removing approximately 11% of the surface material, Universe fraze mowing has been introduced in order to remove 100% of the desired depth of thatch and organic build up. Universe mowing also removes weak poa annua plants, poa annua seed, and other weed seed as well. The regeneration from Universe mowing promotes density and durability, eliminates surface slickness, and creates a smooth playing surface as well.

Universe fraze mowing bermudagrass

Universe fraze mowing Poa Annua out of Kentucky bluegrass


These practices, along with others, provide grass field managers with a wide range of cultivation techniques to implement as often as possible. Start small and expand.  1x every 2 months to 1x every 1 month is a 100% increase.  This is great!  If your salary was increased 100% today, think how happy you would be.  Same goes for the grass plants.

Yes, many times cultivation is avoided in a fear of causing more damage to a field.   Especially during times that the field in experiencing heavy use. However we know the damage that compaction and surface hardness can cause too.  AvoidIng the fear to be aggressive while using good judgement on how and when can counteract those compaction issues and increase use on a grass field.

Inaction may be safe, but it builds nothing.Dave Freudenthal.

Think different and take action. Grass fields can take more!

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

Natural Grass Facts for Earth Day

Earth Day 2014 is here!  1st recognized in 1970,  April 22 is the day the world unites to celebrate and support environmental protection.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a unique fun program to engage kids and adults alike in their environmental commitment.  Check it out!

pick5-210

As we celebrate Earth Day in the grass field management industry, we have a lot to be proud of.  The positive impact of natural grass to the environment is extensive.

2 of the most impactful facts:

1) A 2 acre soccer field in 1 year sequesters enough carbon from the air to equal driving a car from DC to LA and then back

2) A dense stand of grass reduces pollution and run off (2013 EPA Report)

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 %.

Additionally, here is a fantastic fact sheet on the benefits of natural grass from Kansas State University

 

ENJOY EARTH DAY! And enjoy your natural grass!

 

Concept to Active Practice: Fraze Mowing Bermudagrass Makes Debut

FCDallas

On Jan. 30th, we shared in a discussion about the “concept” of fraze mowing bermudagrass w/ the new Universe® rotor for the new Koro Field Topmaker.  The feedback and idea exchange was absolutely fantastic!  It seemed we were onto a potential breakthrough for bermudagrass thatch management.

Last Saturday, March 23, the “concept” became reality as the Universe® made its world debut in Dallas, TX at FC Dallas Park.  The results speak for themselves:

Universe® Koro Field Topmaker Rotor Makes It's World Debut

Universe® Koro Field Topmaker Rotor Makes It’s World Debut

Modern Fraze Mowing w/ Universe® Field Topmaker rotor at FC Dallas Park

Modern Fraze Mowing w/ Universe® Field Topmaker rotor at FC Dallas Park

Rye Grass and Thatch Removed.. Stolons and Rhizomes Exposed to Put on Leaves and Grow Laterally

Rye Grass & Thatch Removed.  Stolons & Rhizomes Exposed to Put on Leaves and Grow Laterally

The rye grass overseeding was removed, along with the thatch, organic layer, and weed seed bed.  Left behind is a mat of stolons and rhizomes that will immediately re-generate leaf blades and begin to grow laterally across the ground.  In bermudagrass weather (FC Dallas bermuda is primarily dormant for a few more weeks), the plant tissue remaining will push out leaves in 4-7 days.. immediately giving the field surface a green appearance again.  Then within 14-21 days, active growth will have the field surface nearly completely re-covered with strong, durable plants ready to sustain heavy traffic.  Fraze mowing also smoothed any undulations in the surface, making the fields as smooth as pool tables.  Overall, the results were absolutely spectacular!!

During the weekend demonstration, FC Dallas Park had 3 fields receive the Koro Renovation Process (Fraze mowed to clean out the thatch, organic layer, ryegrass, and weed seed/ recycle dressed/ smooth drug).  1 field was fraze mowed w/ the new Terraplane rotor, making its USA debut…  then 2 fields were cleaned out w/ the Universe® ,making it’s world debut.  Once the fields were cleaned out, the KORO Recycling Dresser ameliorated the sand… allowing air to be infused back down through the profile.  The topdressing the Recycler created covered the stolons and rhizomes, allowing them to be protected and encouraged re-generate even faster.  Mr. Allen Reed also became the 1st high level professional stadium groundsman in the USA to run the Recycling Dresser on a stadium field, following the likes of Mr. Paul Burgess of Real Madrid’s Estadio Bernabeu.

KORO Recycle Dresser on FC Dallas Stadium

KORO Recycle Dresser on FC Dallas Stadium

THANK YOU to Mr. Miles Studhalter, Mr. Allen Reed, and Mr. Tom Jones of FC Dallas Park for believing in the concept of fraze mowing bermuda w/ the Universe® enough to be the 1st to have it demonstrated and performed.  Their belief and feedback has been essential in bringing the concept into real life.  They were convinced that the practice of cleaning out the rye grass, thatch, organic, and weed seed would provide a stronger, more durable playing surface going into the future.  Thank you again to them.. they are the best of the best!!

Also, thank you to Mr. Joe Pemberton, Head Groundsman of Manchester United’s Carrington Training Ground, for providing feedback during the process.   Joe, in the USA on a short holiday, stopped in to observe the Universe® debut.  It was a privilege to see Mr. Pemberton, he absolutely is one of the world’s very best Field Managers.  Thank you to him for allowing us to ask so many questions!

And finally, a very special thank you to Imants BV (@ImantsBV) of Reusel, Netherlands and Campey Turf Care Systems (@CampeyTurfCare) of Manchester, UK for the development of such a fantastic, forward thinking tool in the Universe®. Imants leadership, along with Mr. KO Rodenberg (KORO) and Campey Turf Care Systems are completely changing sports field maintenance around the world.  Mr. Simon Gumbrill of Campey was essential for the debut of the Universe® in Dallas, thank you to him for taking the time to come across to the USA to lead, teach, and enlighten us to new ideas!  Simon, Thank You!

Overall, the weekend demonstration trials were a complete success.  Fraze mowing bermudagrass w/ the Universe® is no longer a “concept”.  It is now a developing maintenance practice.  Cheers to those who helped make it possible!

The Demo Team!

The Demo Team!