March 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.

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8 SportsTurf | March 2014 I have been employed in the turfgrass industry for 40 years this year, and I am now con- vinced I will go to my grave (or the crematorium) not understanding sod transplant problems or lack thereof. In most cases where the installation and post-installa- tion care are done properly, there are no problems. I wish that was always the case. But before you even talk about maintenance, you must select the sod. The standard in the industry is that the sod must be grown on a sand to be transplanted onto a sand-based mix. When you talk about a standard in the industry there are usually legal ramifications that if you don't follow those standards things don't work out they way they should. I don't deny that using sand-grown sod is the preferred way of sodding a sand-based field, but it often comes at a huge expense to the owners. Let's face it, there really aren't too many sod growers in this country that are growing their product on a sand, much less a sand that is sized similarly to what a field is built with. Therefore, sand-grown sod is sometimes transported hundreds of miles to reach the in- stallation site. The fact is, I have probably seen at least as many prob- lem fields where the "standard of the industry" is fol- lowed as not. In some of those cases the problem could be attributed to post-installation care. A new sand-based field is often a challenge to sports turf managers without experience with this type of field. There is definitely a learning curve. Based on my experience doing the foren- sic work on these problem fields, over-irrigation is often the suspected cause (Figure 1). I would guess that there is some element of fear that the mix will be droughty, that fear leading to excessive irrigation. A properly designed and built sand-based system should not be droughty, but that is a topic for another article. On the other hand, I have seen installations that should have failed (based on our standard of the indus- SAND-GROWN SOD REVISITED © Figure 1. Overwatering can cause issues even with sand- grown sod. Field Science | By Norman W. Hummel Jr., PhD

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