October 2012

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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FieldScience | ByJim Cornelius, CSFM of maintaining synthetic turf THE BASICS L field as it is carried off by players, wind, rain, snow, snow removal, routine maintenance, etc, and being that the infill material is the supporting substance of these fields, it will need to be replaced. When we service a field we typically find that most fields are lacking infill material whether it's all crumb rubber or rubber/sand mix; we also find the turf fibers are laid over with minimal support ET'S BEGIN by acknowledging that synthetic infill fields are NOT maintenance free. No matter what any- one says, these fields need maintenance routinely. Sec- ondly, what comes out of these fields must be replaced, meaning that the infill material disappears from the causing them to prematurely break off. But the worst enemy to the synthetic fibers is the sun and ultraviolet rays that it must endure day after day. By maintaining a proper amount of crumb rubber and allowing approximately only a ½ to ¾ inch of exposed fiber, you are preventing the fibers from folding over and lessening the amount of material breakdown due to ultraviolet rays. On average an athlete or end user will carry off 3-4 pounds of infill material during a playing season. This needs to be replaced annually to sup- port the fibers and provide longevity for the playing surface. To calculate your needs, you need to measure the amount of crumb rubber in a variety locations within the synthetic field boundaries (we measure 10 locations using the ASTM 1936-10 guidelines for Gmax testing as our test points) to determine what you have. If your turf is 2 ¼ inches tall and you have less than 1½ to 1¾ inches of infill, you need to add more. Most crumb rubber infill calculates to 0.55 pounds per square foot for a ¼-inch lift. Most rubber/sand infill systems will not need additional sand as it tends to stay stable within the turf. There are rare occasions when the sand is removed due to operations like snow plowing or torren- tial downpours that cause flooding; if this occurs you will need to be added to the mix. >>Above: IF YOU HAVE TO DEAL with patching, contact the manufacturer or a reputable service company. There are special materials that you will need and the local hardware store, big or small, does not carry them. GROOMING ESSENTIAL Grooming the field is an essential maintenance task that needs to be better understood. It is highly recommended to use a good groomer designed for synthetic turf such as the Greens Groomer or the Wiedenmann units. When using any groomer, adjusting it so that it lightly touches the fibers will provide the best results. Do not lower the entire weight of the groomer onto the turf unless you are trying to level out or move crumb rubber to fill an area such as a lacrosse goal crease. When tickling the fibers with the groomer's brushes the intent is to stand the fibers up to minimize the lay over from use. Often I am asked how much or how often should I groom my >> Above left: IF YOUR TURF is surrounded by bermudagrass or any other creeping stolon-producing grass, be prepared! >> Above right: DUST, dirt, pollen, body skin cells, screws, nails, track spikes, bobby pins and human hair to name a few do not break down in these fields; it is truly amazing how much exists. 14 SportsTurf | October 2012 field. There is no true, exact answer but from my experience I rec- ommend that the field be groomed every 300-350 hours of use. I have read on the web articles saying 400-500 or more hours and much depends on the manpower available. At minimum it should be groomed several times during the highest use periods and less during the down times (if there is such a thing). Trash and debris removal is another constant nuisance and needs to be done whenever it exists. Timely removal is important to keep the trash and debris from becoming ground into the infill material, which causes removal problems later. Sunflower seeds, chewing gum, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, wire ties from nets, and bro- ken sand bags or stone bags used for weighting down goals are just some of the typical items we see when deep-cleaning a field.

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