STMA President Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, shared the following message with members on March 18:
In this time of such uncertainty, we are all affected in one way or another by the issue before us. As we struggle to find some sense of normalcy in the ever-changing response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the one sense of solace for us all is our athletic fields and facilities. A little over a week ago, Past President Jody Gill, CSFM, sent me a note about the possibility of complete facility closures forcing us to walk away from our work. This was very forward thinking at the time, and I would like to thank him for bringing up that concern when he did.
As time has progressed, we are finding that more and more of us are being asked to walk away from our fields and facilities each day. I wanted to share five things that our team used when we were asked to work from home in hopes that it may help you with preparing your fields for at least a few weeks with very little maintenance time.
It’s okay to let go.
5 small things that may make walking away from our fields a little easier
- Safety. Walk all your fields and look for any safety-related items. Record your walk and repair any items you find. Even though we are not at work, citizens or others may still use the fields while we are away. The STMA’s Playing Conditions Index can be found here and is a fantastic tool for recording your safety walks.
- Use of Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs). Look at using the PGRs to reduce the plants’ vertical growth, water use, and fertilizer needs.
- Mowing Height – Consider raising the mowing height, which can reduce the need for mowing. Follow the 1/3 rule when mowing to prevent plant injury. This will be very important as we look to bring fields back to normal after the outbreak is over, and it is also essential to maintaining plant health.
- Fertilization. Look at using a pre-emergent for weed control, as well as slow-release fertilizers that will provide the plant with nutrition without pushing unwanted vegetative growth.
- Irrigation. Look to smart controllers to help with maintaining proper moisture in the soils. Without the smart controllers, local weather services can provide Evapotranspiration (ET) rates daily so you can judge the amount of water the plants have been using and provide an irrigation cycle if necessary. Another option is to make sure that your irrigation controller is set to run your current program and have a rain sensor installed that will help monitor rainfall and can automatically cut off the cycle if rain is present.
Times have undoubtedly changed, but your passion, energy and efforts will shine through as they always have. In this time of uncertainty, remain confident that you are the expert of your fields and facilities, and you know what is best for them. Use that knowledge to find solutions to that will allow you to comply with the request to walk away and still do the best you can to protect your fields and the safety of the end users. This organization is here to support you and there are many resources in our Sports Field Management Institute to as it relates to fields and even personal growth. You have access to these through your STMA membership. Please reach out to STMA if there is anything, we can do to help you moving forward.
Jimmy Simpson, CSFM