March 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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50 SportsTurf | March 2017 Q&A with Dr. Grady Miller Questions? Send them to Grady Miller at North Carolina State University, Box 7620, Raleigh, NC 27695-7620, or email Or, send your question to Pamela Sherratt at 202 Kottman Hall, 2001 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210 or Professor, North Carolina State University Expecting good field conditions exact science so the gaps provide for more variability in how a fi eld may respond to use. The suggested ranges are intended to be starting estimates that should be adjusted based on the specifi c situations at each fi eld site. I would also note that these values assume that the fi eld starts the year with good coverage and it gets at least moderate maintenance. To be most effective at managing fi eld wear, fi eld use data should be collected. I have noticed that as demand for fi eld space has increased that many parks and recreation departments began to centrally schedule fi eld use. This allows them to maximize use with minimum confl icts among users. So computer software is often being used to track users and the time the fi eld is in use. A fi eld manager should have direct access to this data. The down side of central scheduling is that fi elds are often scheduled very intensely without adequate "down time." School systems that do not have as high a demand can often estimate fi eld use based on the number of teams that use their fi elds during the season. The values should be based on all the events that occur on the fi eld, including practices. As I mentioned earlier, the turf conditions as a result of fi eld use can be dramatically different from fi eld to fi eld. I have seen fi elds used in excess of 2,000 hours that were holding up pretty well and I have seen fi elds nearly destroyed with less than 200 hours of use. Use my table values as a starting point. There are many characteristics of fi elds and fi eld use that can infl uence fi eld conditions. Two signifi cant issues are drainage and soil type. Since these are primarily construction issues, they are not easily altered over a short-term period and it's the same with turfgrass. Some of our newer bermudagrasses have tested to be a bit more tolerant to traffi c than some of the older cultivars. But how one manages their grasses is probably even more important. So apply the best techniques given the facilities budget and equipment. Develop a maintenance plan and scheduled recuperative periods for the fi eld. Have a cancellation policy for fi elds that are too wet for play. The number of events a fi eld can handle will ultimately depend upon fi eld construction, weather conditions during the season (especially just before and during games), maintenance practices, recuperative periods, and the time of the year. Once excessive wear and fi eld overuse results in hazardous and unsafe playing conditions, a fi eld may need to be closed to get it back into shape for safe use. Keep your ADs informed and hopefully they will fully support your efforts in maintaining the best fi elds possible. ■ ST Q: I was in your seminar in Orlando [@ STMA Conference]. You showed a slide on hours of use on a sports field before seeing damage. Can I get a copy of that slide? I have a few sports fields that are starting to be over-used and I'm looking for information to give to the ADs that can may help to limit scheduling. Andrew Love, Clover School District (SC) A: The table relating fi eld use to fi eld conditions is probably my most requested slide after sports turf presentations. The origins of the table go back to conversations I had with Dr. Dave Minner in the 1990s. I took the concept of hours of use that Dave was using for football and soccer fi elds in his northern region and adjusted it using data from the southeast. I used to think that as we got better at managing turfgrasses with better turf care products that I would need to increase the hours of use per year. But it seems that the use intensity (bigger and better athletes, more aggressive cleats, more practices, etc.) has offset some of the progress we have made with turfgrass management. In addition, I have also noticed that many user groups have increased expectations in fi eld conditions. So for now it seems like the use estimates are still relevant for many of our football, soccer, lacrosse, and general-purpose fi elds. As someone also once pointed out to me, there are gaps in my fi eld use ranges. This was actually intentional. Predicting fi eld conditions is not an Table. Expected Field Conditions Based on Hours of Field Use per Year Field Use Expected Field Conditions (Hours per year) 200 hours or less Sustain good fi eld conditions 400 to 600 hours Good fi eld conditions with some thinning of the turf and localized wear 800 to 1,000 hours Fair fi eld conditions, expect thinning and wear More than 1,000 hours Signifi cant turf thinning, turf loss, fi eld surface damage, increased risk of athlete injury

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