COLUMBUS, OH—Field managers know that Turface Athletics products are associated with baseball and softball field preparation and reconstruction, but Turface’s Field & Fairway is also a proven soil amendment for natural grass fields. The Ohio State University recently completed a 2007 Prevention and Rescue study which confirmed what many field managers, including Ken Mrock, head groundskeeper with the Chicago Bears, have known for many seasons: Field & Fairway increases drainage and helps prevent water-soaked conditions that lead to the destruction of athletic fields.
Real-world trial results of Turface Field & Fairway in sports turf
“Field & Fairway is perfect to topdress before or during rains if you need to dry up areas for events,” said Ken Mrock. “It provides a safe field for the athletes by preventing the surface from becoming muddy and destroying the turf.”
Kevin Yeiser, director of grounds and athletic facilities at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., became a believer after proactively topdressing with Field & Fairway. “We faced hurricane conditions on the football field at LVC but still managed to play a game on a safe surface as a result of our preparation with Field & Fairway,” he explained. “Coaches were under the assumption that they would be running out onto a bare field [for that game]. When they saw the amount of turf still covering the field, they were very impressed.”
Yeiser’s success, in combination with the OSU research, proves that Field & Fairway is unrivaled for field wear and tear prevention. It aides in field recovery and is the best investment to dry up muddy, wet fields to reduce expensive sports turf damage.
The challenge for many sports field managers is keeping natural turf in good condition amid high traffic or multi-sport use. Many high school and college managers contend with native soil fields which become compacted and lack surface drainage.
As a result, poorly draining fields set the stage for dangerous playing conditions. These muddy fields not only present safety issues for the athletes, but damage to the crown of plants ultimately results in turf damage. Managers must search out products that absorb initial rainfall, provide better traction for players and reduce the possibility of turf damage.
Although Turface products are synonymous with saving baseball and softball infields, the versatile Field & Fairway inorganic soil amendment is perfect for use on sports turf. It absorbs 90% of its weight in water and instantly absorbs excess moisture turning rain-soaked areas into dry, safe, playable surfaces.
Field & Fairway also protects the crown of plants, which helps prevent turf damage. It permanently modifies soil by adding water- and air-holding pore space, prevents compaction, allows better drainage and helps turf stand up to intense traffic. Additionally, OSU specialists found that sand had a damaging impact on the blades of grass. Field & Fairway is much less abrasive than sand.
While Lebanon Valley College braced for the rains of Hurricane Ernesto, Yeiser and his crew applied one-and-a-half tons [about 60 bags] between the fields hash marks. The crew added another dozen bags during pre-game and halftime to keep water levels to a minimum.
Field & Fairway met the challenge. “The coaches said they felt the field held up extremely well,” said Yeiser. “They were pleased with it. The players also were able to concentrate on the game, not on the field condition.”
As the collegiate winner of the 2005 Sports Turf Manager Association’s Complex of the Year award, LVC fields provide an often-followed template for the proper conditioning of turf in advance of heavy wear, or excessive rains. Many eastern Pennsylvania high schools follow similar maintenance programs to ensure continued success on natural grass fields.
Based on the on-field success at LVC, OSU specialists decided to test heavy use on water-soaked fields to see if lab research would yield the same results. Pamela Sherratt, sports turf specialist with The Ohio State University’s Horticulture and Crop Science Department, determined damage prevention was indeed important to turf field management.
Sherratt compared untreated plots, versus those treated with sand and those treated with Turface’s Field & Fairway prior to a simulated rain game event. OSU specialists applied the treatments at two fertilizer rates with sand slits and two-weeks later irrigated the soil until standing water was present. Then they simulated playing conditions using a SISIS® wear machine.
As expected, the plots with no advance preparation faired the worst. The sand dressed plots had some positive results, but were abrasive and harmed the crown of the turf. Plots topdressed with Field & Fairway were in the best condition following prevention application.
“You can lose a field in one game if it rains,” Sherratt said. “At the high school level they don’t have a lot of money to get a field ready for a rain game or for the next game in two weeks. We found by using the Turface product, turf could be saved from extensive damage.”
Although Field & Fairway worked well as a preventative measure against hurricane conditions at LVC, the field did not come away unscathed. Extremely wet playing conditions magnified sports field damage tenfold.
“Even with the Field & Fairway down when Hurricane Ernesto hit, we still had some damage; we couldn’t escape it,” said Yeiser. “But we were able to repair the field by the following home game. We had the field ready and the turf was recovering. Everything was green again.”
A few weeks later, three inches of rain saturated the field requiring another application of Field & Fairway. “Unfortunately, the grass that had germinated got beat up during the next home game,” said Yeiser. “Without the Field & Fairway, I don’t think we would have gotten (the field) playable on time.”
In comparison to the LVC post-hurricane conditions, OSU specialists decided to study the effects of recovery following a simulated rain game event to determine soil compaction and surface firmness. They irrigated plots until standing water was present followed by 20 passes with the SISIS machine. The next day, specialists applied grass seeds to each plot. They tested Field & Fairway versus treatments of sand, in comparison to treatments of Field & Fairway with sand. All applications were tested at topdressing rates of 0.25“ and 0.375″.
One day after traffic on saturated soil, the plots topdressed with Field & Fairway showed significant surface firmness. Plots with sand-slits and topped with Field & Fairway exhibited the best recovery when measured eight, 12 and 17 days after the wet-playing condition event. Compared to all topdressing methods used in the study, the plots topdressed with Field & Fairway recovered the best.
Sherratt had this to add, “Not only was the field saved from damage if applied after a game, but overall firmness of the ground was improved. The playing surface was firm and stable which is necessary for improved safety.”
Turface Field & Fairway is an excellent investment that saves expensive sports fields. When managers consider the alternatives of resodding, reseeding or playing on an unsafe surface, Field & Fairway serves as an outstanding long-term maintenance solution.
The OSU research and LVC real-world application both prove Turface’s Field & Fairway permanently modifies soil and supports field stability. It adds water- and air-holding pore space, prevents compaction, allows for better drainage, helps turf stand up to intense traffic and is an excellent preventative alternative to save sports turf.
Furthermore, both OSU and LVC confirm that Field & Fairway is a valuable recovery resource. If applied to problem sidelines and hash marks, Field & Fairway ensures playable field conditions for subsequent games. It significantly repairs fields, increases surface firmness and promotes quick turf recovery.
Sherratt, Pamela C., Street, John R. and Drake, Arly. 2007. Prevention & Rescue Study 2007. The Ohio State University. Columbus, Ohio.
The information reported herein was supported by findings from the Lebanon Valley College case study released in March 2007.