August 2016

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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STMA IN ACTION News from the Sports Turf Managers Association 38 SportsTurf | August 2016 TOOLS & EQUIPMENT depending on how much downtime he has on the field. If the break between games or events is longer than 10 days, he'll pull cores "if we feel we have enough time for the field to recover" and allow the holes to heal. If not, he'll solid deep-tine aerify, use a slicing machine on the surface, or fracture the soil profile beneath the surface with the Air2G2. "We use our Air2G2 whenever we want because there's no disruption to the playing surface whatsoever," Appelfeller says. "We use the Air2G2 usually once a week. We take it out onto the field and do certain areas that we feel are a little bit more compacted or areas that we want to soften up for our team; the goal mouths, referee runs, that sort of thing." While pulling cores is generally used to remove organic matter, and solid tine or slicing disturbs only the top of the rootzone and soil, the Air2G2 BY STACIE ZINN ROBERTS F or 3 straight days in May, more than 100,000 people thrashed and mauled the turf at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, OH where the city's Major League Soccer club is based. Hard rock bands Red Hot Chili Peppers, Megadeth and Rob Zombie shredded guitars on the stage while thousands of fans rocked out on the field. Six days later, Weston Appelfeller, CSFM, director of grounds for Columbus Crew SC, was preparing the same field for a soccer tournament when the skies opened up and dumped 2 inches of rain in 40 minutes. "With all of the compaction caused by foot traffic from the concert, our field was very hard and not draining well," Appelfeller says. Appelfeller and his three-man crew could have run squeegees over the playing surface "but we would still have been splashing through puddles of water." Instead, in the short window between when the rain stopped and the team members' cleats were scheduled to hit the turf, from 5:15 pm to about 6:40 pm, Appelfeller's crew ran a new type of aerifying machine over the playing surface, an aerifier called the Air2G2 from GT AirInject. The Air2G2 fractures the soil by inserting three probes up to a foot deep into the soil and injecting air (oxygen) at to 7 inches deep, and again at 10 to 12 inches deep, with each drop. Injecting air laterally through the soil profile creates pore space for water to drain and increases the gas exchange in the soil. By 7pm when Columbus Crew SC began their warm ups, the field was damp but showed no signs of standing water. "There were no standing puddles by the time the game started," Appelfeller says. Lightning caused a delay later in the game but the field remained playable. The field at MAPRE stadium was built with 10 inches of sand over a gravel drainage layer. The Kentucky bluegrass overseeded with perennial ryegrass hasn't been re-sodded since 2006. Appelfeller credits the longevity of the field's playing surface, in part, to his aggressive aerification program. In the 4 years since he joined the Columbus Crew SC staff, "every 10 days we are doing some form of aerification." At Columbus Crew SC, Appelfeller rotates between four different methods of aerification, reaches deeper into profile and injects air (oxygen). So unique is the innovation that the Air2G2 was awarded the 2015 STMA Innovative Award. "We are actually doing what aerification is defined as, we are infusing oxygen into the soil profile, relieving compaction and increasing the gas exchange and doing this with minimal or no surface disruption," says Glen Black, president of GT AirInject. "It's a whole different process," adds Todd Jones, general manager of GT AirInject. "It's up to each sports turf manager, what they're trying to accomplish. If the intent is to remove some of his organic matter to get new amendments back in, core aerifying or fraise mowing may be the answer. The Air2g2 machine is a true aerifier, relieving compaction and stimulating root growth with oxygen. If relieving compaction, stimulating gas exchange and increasing porosity are also the goals, with minimal disruption of the surface, the Air2G2 machine is the answer." The Air2G2 has three ½-inch probes, spaced 30 inches apart. When the probes are inserted up to 12 inches into the ground, air is injected at two different times at two different levels below the surface (at 6 to 7 inches and at 10 to 12 inches) fracturing the soil in a 9-foot circumference from the probe. Once the probe is retracted from the ground, the hole left behind is virtually undetectable in a stand of healthy sports turf. The Air2G2 machine has an MSRP of $38,750. The machine may be purchased outright or leased for approximately $700 per month. Air2G2 distributors around the country also offer contracting services. A new handheld version, the Air2HP, must be hooked up to an external compressor or to the Air2G2 machine. The Air2HP can be used to spot treat smaller areas and hard- to-reach places like sand bunkers, flowerbeds, the base of trees or around irrigation heads. The Air2HP retails for under $500. At the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Darren Seybold has been director of sports surfaces for 6 years. He has had an Air2G2 machine for a year and has found creative ways to use it — for much more than just compaction relief. "Aerification was always one of those thing things people thought you did once or twice a year and you were good," Seybold says. "I think what Weston Appelfeller, CSFM, Director of Grounds, Columbus Crew. Ben Jackson, CSFM, working the Air2G2 in Columbus. TECHNOLOGY TREND: PUTTING THE 'AIR' IN AERIFICATION

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