This month in “The SportsTurf Interview,” we visit with Allen Reed, CSFM, director of stadium grounds for FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.
SportsTurf: You know a lot of sports turf managers. What are they saying are the biggest obstacles to overcome for them to be successful today?
Reed: Number of events with no down time seems to always come up in conversation. We host around 115 events a year and have adapted and adjusted our management techniques that has taken us from resodding every year to just completing our first full field renovation in 7 years. We have accomplished this through proper maintenance and fertility practices. We do some form of aeration weekly. Our fertility plan is low in nitrogen and high in potassium to focus on strengthening the plant without have excessive growth.
SportsTurf: You are one of most high-profile sports turf managers to fraze mow. Why did you decide to try that and how has it worked out? Any advice for others who are considering trying it?
Reed: The thought process started about 4 years ago. Eight years of thatch build up and poa were a couple of the major issues we needed to correct. We were also having issues with our bermudagrass sheering off due to the players’ cleats not being able to make soil contact because of thatch. We always want to be up to date on new technology and find new ways to improve our fields. Bermudagrass is tough; the more you beat it up the better it comes back. We knew it would recover, just didn’t know the time frame. We universe fraze mowed the training field for the first time in March 2013. We were able to move the team’s training to one of our many complex fields while the field recovered. The field was shut down for 7 weeks that year and we have since gotten our recovery time down to 3 weeks with the right growing conditions. Over the past 2 years we have removed 1.5 inches of thatch/organic layer and almost completely eliminated our poa problem. This has become the new normal for us and will continue to implement universe fraze mowing into our management practices. My advice for anyone wanting to try it would be to not get taken advantage of by imitators; use the correct equipment to get maximum results.
SportsTurf: Every soccer pitch in the USA has wear in the goalmouths. Any advice for those at park & rec or school levels on keeping turf growing there?
Reed: Our fertility and aeration programs are pretty aggressive. Our fertility focuses on low N and high K. Our goal is to make the plant as strong as we can without excessive growth to hold up to the amount of events we have. Our high traffic areas, like our goal mouths, do get a little extra attention each week. We do some form of aeration to some if not all of the field weekly. It is very important to be proactive in your management practices, not reactive.
SportsTurf: What’s your favorite on-field maintenance task that you still enjoy performing?
Reed: I still love to get on the mower. This is my time to inspect the entire pitch to get a good look and feel for any trouble areas.
SportsTurf: How has your career benefitted from being a member of STMA?
Reed: STMA has always been a great networking opportunity. I have met many new colleagues from around the world within the turfgrass industry that have helped shape me into the turf manager I am today.
SportsTurf: How do you think the profession and industry will change in the next 10 years?
Reed: New technology and management practices will be a game changer for the future of turf management. As turf managers we need to be willing to change our management approach as the demand for more events continue to rise. I believe that you will start seeing more and more turf managers using grow lights and aerating their fields more. Some managers are already using lights with great success on both warm- and cool-season grasses. Stadiums are only getting bigger which decreases the natural light the plant receives. Players want to play on grass, and we need to be willing to do whatever it takes to provide them best playing surface no matter the growing conditions. Because of this I believe you will start to see a shift from artificial back to natural grass fields at all levels of play. I am a huge believer that grass can take more.
SportsTurf: What are your passions and interests outside of work?
Reed: I love to spend time with my family and friends, travel with my wife, and play golf.