Share With Us. Natural Grass IS the Answer!

NBC News ran a story last Wednesday evening and Thursday morning that exposed fears on artificial turf to the general public. Here is the original story:    NBC Investigation

NBC News Artificial Turf Investigation w/ Gorgeous Grass Field at U of Portland's In The Background

NBC News Artificial Turf Investigation w/ Gorgeous Grass Field at U of Portland In Background

With this story and many of the follow up stories, the call is for better research on rubber crumb and organic infills for artificial turf fields.

But instead of waiting for more research for artificial, instead we can all lead the call for better quality NATURAL GRASS fields!!

Artificial turf came into being because of a problem: Grass fields weren’t being maintained or were not taking the heavy use. The general public now thinks that is just always the case: Grass fields just can’t take it heavy play or can’t be used in the rain.

Well now we know that is just not true!! This is the era of better maintenance tools and techniques.  Innovation and creativity is expanding.  YES, NATURAL GRASS FIELDS CAN TAKE MORE USE!! Always!! 

This weekend Turf Republic published a piece by Growing Green Grass founder Jerad Minnick wrote with that theme:  A recommitment to natural grass can meet the field needs!  Grass IS The Answer!  (Also find it below)

Growing Green Grass encourages YOU to take this opportunity to help re-establish positive public thinking towards natural grass fields. Right now around you there are parents, coaches, administrators and lawmakers talking about the concerns of artificial with no idea that natural grass IS the answer. Can you help let those people know the possibilities of grass?

How you ask? Just simply share the positive possibilities of natural grass with people not in the turfgrass/ sports field industry!  NATURAL GRASS FIELDS CAN TAKE MORE!

Some things to consider to get the word out to people:

– Share the NBC news story on your social media platforms and through email w/ neighbors, family, friends, school board members and AD’s. These people are not in the turfgrass industry and do not get regular information like you.  However, we recommend not to give commentary.   Just share the story.  Remember that there are people suffering. And there are good people on the other side of this that sell, distribute and market artificial.  Additionally, many of your are currently maintaining some artificial turf.  Let NBC tell the story, not you.

– Follow up the story from NBC to all of the same people and share the POSITIVE MESSAGE about the possibilities of grass!!!  NATURAL GRASS CAN TAKE MORE!

– In your sharing, pass your personal passion and support for the possibilities of grass!! Your passion makes it real for others.  They can connect with you and will appreciate your unique skills and experience as part of the natural grass industry.

So SPREAD THE WORD!  Remember…  STAY POSITIVE

Always feel free to use anything coming from Growing Green Grass (www.growinggreengrass.net) to support your passion.  Employ the hashtag #GrassCanTakeMore via social media. TPI and the Lawn Institute have excellent resources on the good of grass as well  Lawn Institute Website

THANK YOU for using this opportunity to share the possibilities of grass and shape the bright future of the natural grass sports field industry.

And THANK YOU for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

The Team at Growing Green Grass


Grass IS the Answer!

by Jerad Minnick • 3 days ago
A commitment to the existing grass fields around us can meet the immediate needs for safe, quality playing fields.

TR_Grass

TURF REPUBLIC:  http://www.turfrepublic.com/2014/10/11/grass-answer/

The unknowns of synthetic turf safety have burst into the limelight this week. The call is for additional research on synthetic turf rubber crumb infills or a change to organic infills for new fields being installed.

But instead of waiting years for research, the answer already exists! A commitment to the existing grass fields around us can meet the immediate needs for safe, quality playing fields. Here is how that can work:

Less Cost:
With an existing field, as little as 1/10th of the amount of money needed for 1- synthetic field is needed to improve and maintain that grass field over 10 years. In a world of tight budgets, spending to improve and maintain 10 existing grass fields correctly instead of building 1 synthetic will make a significant difference.

Additionally, to build and maintain a quality grass field that is rainout proof, 1/3 to 1/2 of the monetary investment of a synthetic field is required over 10 years. See more basic expense figures here: Grass v synthetic, The numbers

Playability:
Natural grass fields can be built and maintained to meet playability needs based on level, demand, and budget. Grass can be maintained to fit the level of surface that is needed. Slow, fast, soft, firm, wet, dry. All factors can be controlled.

On maintained grass the ball always “rolls”, allowing players to predict ball movement. Skin burns and abrasions aren’t common with grass. That fact allows players to attack aggressively and naturally without fear of injury. And that same grass surface has a temperature below the outdoor temperature, naturally cooling the area for players. See more thoughts on playability: Artificial turf makes no sense for soccer

Environmental/ Health impact:
Natural grass is just that… natural. The environmental benefits of grass are many. And all-natural, natural grass that needs no EPA approved pesticides is near because of improved grass genetics, evolving maintenance practices, and new technology for pest control.

More positives from natural grass are:
– Filters pollutants from storm water as it soaks back into the soil
– Reduces noise pollution by up to 40%
– Cools the ambient air temperature
– Produces oxygen (1 field/ yr produces enough to supply up to 128 people)
– Reduces CO2 (1 field/ yr removes the equivalent emitted by a car driving 6,000 miles)
With acres of park and stadium fields around the world, the good of grass has a huge positive impact on players and society. See more details: Healthy lawn, healthy environment

Innovation for durability and player safety:
The tools used for grass fields improve daily. Creative thinking and technology offer a wide range of innovation for grass fields.

Grass breeding and genetics: Grasses, both warm & cool season, are now available that grow twice as fast and are double as durability as standard, accepted grasses.

Technology for plant feeding and health: Environmentally friendly fertilizers have been developed for healthy grass growth. These products are created in cooperation with government regulations to protect the environment. The friendly fertilizers help produce thick, strong grass that the EPA has endorsed as important for ground-water filtration.

Development of safety and durability tools: A wide range of safety and durability tools are available to be used on grass fields. Systems to absorb energy and reduce surface hardness and injury potential are available. Products that provide surface stability to eliminate slipping and divoting have been developed. No longer is it just grass and dirt. Innovation is advancing possibilities of grass fields.

Human Element:
Natural grass is economical, player friendly, good for the environment, and continues to improve with innovation. But ultimately the biggest advantage grass fields have is the human care they receive from dedicated turfgrass managers. Existing turfgrass managers, provided with a few tools, can produce a low-cost, environmentally friendly field. In an age of needed job creation, committing money to maintain grass fields instead of building synthetic will create numerous new environmentally friendly jobs in the sports & park industry.

There is an immediate need for safe, quality playing fields. The fields needed ALREADY EXIST! But “if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten”. It’s no longer acceptable to spend little to no money to maintain an existing grass field but then turn to a million dollar synthetic field. Yes, a simple commitment to improvement and maintenance of natural grass fields can provide the answer!

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FIFA is WRONG: 5 reasons synthetic turf is not the future

By Jerad R. Minnick.  Founder of Growing Green Grass

FIFA President Sepp Blatter recently increased the international soccer governing body’s advocacy for synthetic turf. In an August 4th press conference, Mr. Blatter called synthetic turf the “future” for soccer. His statements not only played as a sales pitch for big business synthetic turf, they were complete slander against the natural grass and green industry of plants and sustainability.  President Blatter took his bold statements all the way to suggest that grass soccer fields would become today’s grass tennis courts… that very few soccer matches a year will be played on natural grass.

President Blatter’s statements about synthetic turf as the “future” for soccer are in no way based in fact.  His statements are his opinion. Conversely, it can easily be argued that synthetic turf is not the future. In fact, it is possibly that synthetic turf could become completely obsolete for soccer surfaces sooner than later. Here are 5 reasons to why natural grass is not only staying in soccer, but why they are going to prevail from President Blatter’s un-factual assault.

 

Cost
The continually pushed idea to support synthetic turf is that synthetic turf is cheaper than natural grass. That idea is completely false. Certainly there are ways to make a grass field more expensive. But a basic, high quality natural grass field that can be used in the rain requires less than ½ of the monetary investment required for a synthetic field. In fact, the investment required for a 10-year period on 1 synthetic field equals the amount of money required for 3 natural grass fields. Those figures are based on an 8-year replacement cycle for the synthetic plastic carpet. Major League Soccer has 3 stadiums with synthetic fields that are being replaced on a 3-year rotation, a rate that doubles the price over a 10-year period. Additionally, new infills to reduce extreme heat and shock pads below the synthetic carpet that are needed for safety increase cost even more. In a world hampered with economic crisis, synthetic turf fields are not the answer. See more basic expense figures here: Grass v synthetic, The numbers 

 

Playability
Natural grass fields can be built and maintained to meet a stadium’s needs. Natural grass surfaces can be controlled and changed by Sports Field Managers to fit the type of surface that a coach and team wants to play on. Slow, fast, soft, firm, wet, dry. All of these factors can be controlled completely with a grass field and can even be changed from match to match depending on what a coach wants for their team’s advantage. With these changing factors, still the ball always “rolls” on natural grass, allowing players to predict ball movement during play. Skin burns and abrasions aren’t common with grass as on synthetic. The burn potential and pain make players timid to attack or defend in a way that could lead them to fall and be scarred. Additionally, a natural grass surface temperature is below the outdoor temperature, cooling the area for players instead of super heating it.  With the fight being staged by women’s National team players around the world against synthetic in the 2015 World Cup, grass playability and appeal is obvious.  See more thoughts on playability: Artificial turf makes no sense for soccer 

 

Environmental/ Health impact
Natural grass is just that… natural. The environmental benefits of natural grass are many. There is no debate about potential cancer threats, extra requirements for storm water management, or heat island threats from natural grass. With improved grass genetics, evolving maintenance practices, and technology for pest control, a world of all-natural, natural grass is just a few years away. More positives from natural grass are:

  • Filters pollutants from storm water as it soaks back into the soil
  • Reduces noise pollution by up to 40%
  • Cools the ambient air temperature
  • Produces oxygen (1 field/ yr produces enough to supply up to 128 people)
  • Reduces CO2 (1 field/ yr removes the equivalent emitted by a car driving 6,000 miles)

With acres of park and stadium fields around the world, the good of grass has a huge positive impact on players and society.  See more details: Healthy lawn, healthy environment 

 

Innovation for durability and player safety
The tools used by Sports Field Managers to maintain and improve grass fields evolve daily. Creative thinking and technology are creating a wide range of innovation for natural grass fields.

Grass breeding and genetics: The evolution of turfgrass varieties is dramatic. Improved grasses are available that can grow and recovers at double the rate of older varieties. Better bermudagrass can sustain winters as far north as Philadelphia and will grow in the transition zone and southern regions for nearly 1 month longer than before as well. Seashore Paspalum can be watered using ocean salt water and requires very little sunlight. Cool season grass breeding has created Kentucky bluegrass seed germinates within 7 days of planting in order to establish a field in 5 to 7 weeks. Previously it has taken 3 to 6 months. Additionally, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass are able sustain aggressive growth through summer heat and withstand disease stress. All of these better grasses require less water and sustain better growth into drought conditions.

Technology for plant feeding and health: Environmentally friendly fertilizers have been and continue to be developed for even, sustained turfgrass growth. These products are created in cooperation with state and local laws to protect the environment while producing thick, strong grass stands on fields. Natural plant hormones and bio-stimulants are available to feed turfgrass plants holistically. These products stimulate natural growth and provide energy for plant health and recovery. Much like a healthy human on a balanced diet and exercise routine, grass plants on a prescribed maintenance program can be healthy and strong too. Think Gatorade, Red Bull, and Vitamin water for grass.

Development of safety and durability tools: Currently a wide range of safety and durability tools are available to be used on natural grass fields. Some examples are:

  • Fiber Sand: Small polypropylene fibers mixed into sand to create stability and give grass roots material to wrap around and not pull out/ divot out
  • Fiber Elastic: Polypropylene fibers for stability mixed with elastane pieces to absorb energy. The energy absorption reduces field compaction and cuts down on the injury potential of the players using the field.
  • AirFibr: Polypropylene for stability mixed with specially developed cork particles to absorb energy. AirFibr has documented injury reduction data from biomechanics labs working to improve grass surfaces
  • XtraGrass: Natural grass growing through a 3” biodegradable mat of synthetic fibers to create surface stability, traction and player safety.
  • Desso GrassMaster: Stability fibers sewed into sand to provide stability, traction, and player safety.

These are just a few examples of many innovative products available for natural grass fields to sustain heavy traffic and advance player safety. New grass genetics and plant health technology in combination with the safety and durability products create the foundation for strong natural grass fields.

 

Human Element
The human element is the final reason that President Blatter and FIFA are wrong about synthetic turf being the future for soccer. Natural grass is cheaper, more player friendly, better for the environment, and continues to improve and evolve with innovation for durability and player safety. But ultimately the biggest advantage natural grass has over synthetic turf is the care natural grass receives from dedicated Sports Field Manager. A Sports Field Manager that is provided with just a few tools can provide a low-cost, environmentally friendly surface that players desire and need for long careers.  In an age of needed worldwide job creation, FIFA supporting natural grass fields instead of attacking it could create numerous environmentally friendly, green jobs in the sports field and landscape industry. But instead President Blatter and FIFA are advocating for synthetic turf, an industry funded by petroleum, carpet manufacturing, and tire recyclers looking for ways to discard waste.

Synthetic turf is not the future for soccer.  These 5 reasons illustrate that President Blatter’s statements in support of synthetic turf are not based in fact. The statements are just his opinion. Synthetic turf is not the future of soccer, no matter how much he advocates for it.

Welcome Back to the Possibilities of Natural Grass!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#grasscantakemore  #thinkdifferent

IMG_3581

Welcome to the Future?!

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

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

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

Granulated Cork Pieces

Granulated Cork Pieces

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

THE FUTURE!?!?

4" Width x 8" Profile Sample

4″ Width x 8″ Profile Sample

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

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

(*Information from the Institute information sheet provided us)

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

biomecanique_en

Again….  THE FUTURE!?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coupe-Technologie-AirFibr_en

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!