February 2014

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.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 51

28 SportsTurf | February 2014 A s I write this article, we are in the middle of NFL playoff season, my fa- vorite time of the year. Not so much because of all the quality play and intense rivalries unfolding on the gridiron, but more to check out how the fields are holding up in the middle of winter, and at the end of a long, extended season. Yes I know, words of a true "turf rotor head." During the replays, I am checking out what type of traction the sod provided while everyone else is looking to see if the players' feet were in bounds. Being in the sports turf industry for more than 20 years, I can begin to appreciate some of the many chal- lenges the professional sports field managers face. We all naturally look to the pro groundskeepers for ideas on what's new, what's proven, and what's possible. We have seen the evolution of many products and practices at the professional level that eventually trickle down to college and amateur sports. One area of advancement has been with in-season sod replacement. We see it on almost every natural grass NFL playoff game and college bowl game field this year. Either down the center of the field, or often the entire surface is replaced in a matter of a couple days with 1.5-2-inch thick sod that can withstand immediate play. Some re- placements may look better than others, and field man- agers are great at masking the transitions, but all replacements have the same intent. Provide sure and con- sistent footing under a wide range of weather conditions. Sounds easy enough, especially with an NFL or bowl game budget, but what about for your high school field? Well, the industry trickle down is happening and here is the story. THE HISTORY The invention of big roll sod harvesters in 1991 was a big step in being able to provide thick, stable sod from farm to field. Slab and small roll versions were available before then, but a 42-inch or larger width roll really helped reduce the number of seams and allowed a more mechanized installation. Some of the problems include finding a good sod source and a farm willing to harvest thick cut. It is hard to convince a sod grower to change his cutting depth and truck off their most valuable resource (topsoil) in order to provide a field manager with heavy thick sod. Also, sod must be very mature and tightly knit- ted to hold together in a thick cut application, so plan- ning a year in advance is necessary to secure a source. Once the sod arrives at the field, there can be other problems. The thicker the sod is harvested at the farm, the bumpier it feels on the field. Also, if the farm native soil has high clay content, and you place over a drainage sys- tem, vertical drainage can be negated. When it does rain, the result can be a muddy, unstable surface. So the chal- lenge became to develop a sod with a smooth uniform thickness, dense root system, a vertically draining root zone, and withstand 300-pound guys digging in with their cleats. ENTER SOD GROWN ON PLASTIC (SOP) I am actually not sure who came up with the idea of growing sod on plastic. It sounded crazy to me at first when I heard of a company in Georgia growing bentgrass DURABLE SOD FOR IN-SEASON REPLACEMENT Facility & Operations | By Chad Price, CSFM, CFB Sod grown on plastic by Carolina Green Corp.'s sod farm in North Carolina. The damaged stadium field was replaced following the concert and ready for immediate play (to view time-lapse video of field replacement log into and click on UVA Stadium Turf Replacement). WWW

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of SportsTurf - February 2014