Welcome to the Future?!

As part of “ThinkDifferent”, I have repeatedly made the statement that “within 5 years, there WILL be a natural grass alternative to synthetic turf.”  That is a statement that the natural grass industry is closer to than any of us realize.  Through combining the best technologies and techniques with creative thinking… we are close!  No one has any idea what the future holds!

During a recent visit to France, I got a peek into what the future does hold for natural grass fields and us as Grass Field Managers.  For possibly the first time ever, two grass field agronomists (Mr. Chris Hague from Denmark and myself) spent several hours in a NeuroMusculoskeletal Biomechanics lab with some of France’s top research and medical specialists.  Country and western singer Brad Paisley’s 2009 hit “Welcome to the Future” played in my mind as we were exposed to research on the interaction between players and the field surface from a scientific, biomechanics perspective. Or maybe the more proper song would have been the introduction to the “Twilight Zone“, as we truly were introduced to an entirely new dimension in which grass fields soon will be moving.  Either song is fitting.  And the opportunity Chris and I had to be introduced to some exciting new ideas technology for natural grass fields was game changing.  Let’s take a quick look:

The group Natural Grass is responsible for the game changing ideas and research taking place in France.  Their concept revolves around the use of granulated cork in a sand root zone for a natural grass sports field.  The cork mixed in sand absorbs energy displaced into the sand from each step a player running takes.  The energy is being absorbed, lowering the injury potential.   The cork in the field gives, not the player’s ligaments or tendons.   What a great idea yeah?!?  Wow.

Granulated Cork Pieces

Granulated Cork Pieces

The agronomic benefit is similar.  With the energy absorption, the compaction potential in the sand root zone is lowered/ eliminated.  The result is an air-filled root zone in which strong, healthy grass roots can always exist.  Strong, healthy roots allow the grass can always continue to grow and recover.  And a grass sward that is always growing and recovering can take an increased amount of traffic without an increased amount of maintenance.

THE FUTURE!?!?

4" Width x 8" Profile Sample

4″ Width x 8″ Profile Sample

The research behind the cork concept is being done at the George Charpak Institute for NeuroMusculoskeletal Biomechanics.  The institute has 3 teams for research:

1) Musculoskeletal Modelling and Clinical Innovation: Oriented towards patient-specific biomechanical modelling of the musculoskeletal system, this research aims to improve the understanding of pathologies resulting from degenerative processes, traumatism or handicap, as well as develop computer aided diagnosis and therapeutic tools, or design implants and technical aids
2) Biomechanics and Nervous System: Motion Analysis and Restoration: This research is based in clinical site (CHU Henri Mondor Creteil). The aim is to better understand relationships existing between motion muscular actuators and their neurocontrol command.  Analyzing and modelling motion disorders that happen subsequently to a neurological handicap, leads to design and objective evaluation of rehabilitation protocols.  
3) Biomechanics: Sport, Health and Safety: This research, carried out in clinical site (CHU Avicenne-University Paris 13), copes with three issues: inter-relationships between sportive practice and musculoskeletal remodeling in order to optimize performance while reducing induced pathology; mechanisms of injury after impacts (road crashes, sports) to improve protection devices; tissues and structures characterization at various loading speeds

(*Information from the Institute information sheet provided us)

The Institute has completed 4 years of testing on different concepts for sports field and how they react to energy absorption and the human body.  The work is amazing.  And the results are eye-opening.  There truly is a relationship between the shock from players legs and the field surface.  Not only does the data expose the need for absorption in the soil, but also for we as grass field managers to embark on an aggressive surface testing program.

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Again….  THE FUTURE!?!?

Will it become common for grass field managers to be communicating with fitness experts and biomechanical experts?  I think YES!  Outside experts becoming involved in research and innovation for natural grass create entirely new possibilities for the limits of natural grass fields.  EXCITING!

Chris and I also had the opportunity to visit Aube Stadium in Troyes, France.  Aude is the first stadium to install the “AirFibr” system on their field (summer of 2013).  Thank you to Aube Head Grounds Manager Eric Robin for hosting us!

R to L: Chris Hague, Eric Robin, Jerad Minnick

R to L: Chris Hague, Eric Robin, Jerad Minnick

(As you look through the Natural Grass website, yes there are a few more components/ parts to the first Natural Grass product, “AirFibr”. The additional of synthetic microfibers helps with stability of a weakened root zone for winter time play, and silica sand helps with superior drainage in the French market.  And yes, some of the information Natural Grass has is commercial, as they believe in their product and want to sell it.  

But let us focusing on the concept of the cork and the energy absorption.  Let us see the creativity and importance of the Natural Grass relationship with some of France’s best researchers in the biomechanics field of study)

Here is another snap shot of the particular “Air Fibr” product: 

Coupe-Technologie-AirFibr_en

Background on Organic Sand Amendments… and How Global Communication is Improving the Industry 
During a tour of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) last fall (October 2013) with Mr. Simon Gumbrill of Campey Turf Care, STRI’s Dr. Christian Spring lead us past an abandoned trial on sports field root zone mixtures involving coconuts husks.  Seeing visible squares of live and dead grass, Simon’s inquisitive mind asked the question of what was happening.  The plots containing coconut had survived the uncommon summer heat of 2013 better than the plots without, even with the trial abandoned.  

That experience left me curious about the possibilities of organic soil amendments for sand to increase durability and decrease compaction potential without introducing something like peat.   Peat is great for golf.  Why do we always have to follow golf?  For sports peat is expensive and can lead to compaction potential.  

With those thoughts on my mind, later that week I was meeting with Premier Pitches Mr. Carl Pass and Mr. Russell Latham and discussing the topic of sand reinforcement and sustainability for high traffic fields. Carl and Russell had recently visited Paris, France to see a new reinforcement  product with cork called “Air Fibr”.  There and then the connection to France and the USA via England was made.  Now our United States marketplace has another idea for innovation and natural grass durability for the future.  Communication and sharing is changing our world…  Thank you to everyone involved in sharing, communicating, and idea exchange.  Together we are re-defining our FUTURE! 

 

KORO Renovation Methods Reach California

The world-class Stub Hub Center in Los Angeles has become the latest addition to the list of facilities to put fraze mowing into practice .  In a demonstration/ field day this week, the training field for the MLS club Chivas USA was fraze mowed and renovated with pieces of the KORO renovation process.  Stub Hub Center, formerly known as Home Depot Center, is home to Chivas USA, the back-to-back defending MLS Champion LA Galaxy, US Soccer, and several of the United State’s highest profile events;

The renovation was organized by STS Services (Jock Eddington) of Phoenix, AZ and Campey Turf Care (Simon Gumbrill) of Manchester, UK.  The rest of the renovation/ demonstration team was made up of Mr. Paul Burgess (Real Madrid),  Jerad Minnick (Maryland SoccerPlex), Julie Adamski (Maryland SoccerPlex),  Kevin White (Seattle University),  Brian Wood (Commercial Turf & Tractor) and Mr. Jose Maria Aldrete (Chivas Guadalajara).  The Stub Hub Center staff, lead by Mr. Shaun Ilten, played an absolutely vital role as well.  Kudos to them for all the support and the open mind to proceed!

The Chivas training pitch is a tight mix of bermudagrass and ryegrass.  But as every grass field experiences,  an organic layer was beginning to accumulate and poa annua was starting to populate.  Mr. Ilten, Stub Hub Center’s Head Grounds Manager, recognized that fraze mowing and the KORO renovation process could be something that could not only help with keeping those challenges from increasing… but also create an even stronger and traffic tolerant surface for Stub Hub Center year round.

Renovation Goals: 

1) Eliminate/ reduce poa annua population

2) Increase durability of the field by cleaning out/ breaking up organic layering and de-compacting sub-base

3) Create a strengthened bermudagrass base to act as stability for the inner-seeded ryegrass

4)  Keep the entire surface smooth to increase playability by the high level teams

Fraze Mowing

To start the renovation, the field was fraze mowed.   With frazing, the challenges of the field: thatch, organic build up,  ryegrass, poa annua plants and poa seed: were removed off the surface while leaving the base of bermudagrass below.   As fraze mowing multiple fields in 2013 has demonstrated (Fraze Mowing Results), the Universe® rotor on the Field Topmaker cleaned the material off the surface and left the bermudagrass rhizomes to re-generate.

Fraze Mowing Off Thatch and Organic Matter w/ the KORO Universe® Rotor

Fraze Mowing Off Thatch and Organic Matter w/ the KORO Universe® Rotor

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Fraze Mowing w/ KORO Universe®

Fraze Mowing w/ KORO Universe®

The bermudagrass rhizomes exposed to the sunlight began to re-generate and run across the ground immediately.  That network creates a base of natural stability in the sub-soil.

De-Compaction

Following cleaning, the sub-surface profile was de-compacted using the Imants Shockwave w/ 8″ blades.  Shockwave, a soil wave de-compaction machine, is ideal for a heavy soil sub-surface that needs softened.

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting Sub Soil

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting Sub Soil

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting 8" Deep

Imants Shockwave De-Compacting 8″ Deep

Incorporation of Sand Into Soil Surface:

With the thatch, organic matter, poa annua, poa annua seed bank and ryegrass removed, followed with the sub-soil de-compacted…  1/2″ of sand was added to the surface.  Using an Imants RotoKnife to slice up the top, sand was worked down into the soil profile to promote infiltration, reduce compaction potential, and to provide air space for stronger plants.

Imants RotoKnife Slicing Profile to Incorporate Sand

Imants RotoKnife Slicing Profile to Incorporate Sand

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Seeding Ryegrass Into Bermudagrass Base:

Ryegrass was seeded into the bermudagrass base of the field following cleaning off, de-compaction, and sand incorporation.  With bermudagrass rhizomes beginning to re-generate across and through the soil surface, they will prove natural stability for the ryegrass that is seeded down into the soil.  The resilience of ryegrass will sustain heavy amounts of traffic without divoting or wearing away at the crown of the plant because of the bermudagrass reinforcement.

3 Days Following Fraze Mowing, Bermudagrass Beginning to Gergenerate

3 Days Following Fraze Mowing, Bermudagrass Beginning to Regenerate

Sun Setting As Seeding of Ryegrass Progresses

Sun Setting Following Seeding of Ryegrass Progresses

Conclusion:

With the beautiful Southern California sunshine beaming down on it, the ryegrass seed will now germinate and fill in quickly.  The low sun angle and mild temperatures will inhibit complete bermudagrass regeneration, but that is ok since the bermuda is there for reinforcement and playability, not turfgrass cover.    Within 4 weeks time, the training field will be available to be back on-line for the busy winter season at Stub Hub Center… and absolutely bullet proof by the time Chivas USA returns for the start of the MLS season in January.

THANK YOU to all the participants of the field day and the demonstration of the renovation practices!!  THANK YOU to Mr. Shaun Ilten and his staff and Stub Hub Center for the support and for the open mind to try the new renovation techniques.  And THANK YOU to Assistant GM of Stub Hub Center, Mr. Kyle Waters, for his time and for hosting the group for the LA Galaxy v. Real Salt Lake Playoff match at Stub Hub Center Stadium.  Stub Hub Center is one of the world’s finest…  Mr. Ilten and Mr. Waters are absolutely majors reasons why!!

More updates to come on the re-establishment.  Keep the questions coming!

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Day 5: Final Day in the UK, Manchester!

Day 5 in the UK was in the city of Manchester, home of 2 EPL powers.  Mr. Simon Gumbrill was kind enough to return as the tour guide, thank you to him for the continued hospitality and kindness!!

Our 1st stop of the day was to see Mr. Lee Jackson at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.  Mr. Jackson, one of expert group member on pitch management for ESSMA, was gracious with his time and communication.  Many thanks to Mr. Jackson for that.  And even after a heavy stretch of use, the pitch was absolutely fantastic.  Kudos to him and his staff for the hard work!

Mr. Lee Jackson

Mr. Lee Jackson

Leaving the Etihad, we traveled over to the training ground of the other team in Manchester, Manchester United.  Great to see Mr. Joe Pemberton at his own facility after he dropped in to say hello on holiday when we were fraze mowing bermudagrass for the 1st time ever this spring at FC Dallas Park.  Mr. Pemberton and his staff have the ground looking fantastic.  When we visited last spring, much of the facility was still under construction.  Wow the results are impressive!  Thank you to Joe for taking the time to show us around and to share some of his thinking around large facility management and pitch maintenance.

Mr. Simon Gumbrill and Mr. Joe Pemberton

Mr. Simon Gumbrill and Mr. Joe Pemberton

As the week in the UK closes, I can’t thank Simon Gumbrill enough for his time and guidance around the country.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Simon’s personable nature and British charm is single-handedly drawing the worlds of US and UK groundsmanship together.  THANK YOU Simon for putting up with my questions all week.

And THANK YOU to all the UK Head Grounds Managers who took time out of their day to talk with me.  I commented to someone earlier today, the warmth and openness of the UK Grounds Managers is amazing.  My last trip over the pond left me thinking the same thing.  Steve Jobs, in an award speech to the Academy of Achievement in 1982, stressed the need for different experiences in life to make new connections with reality to feed innovation.   The Grounds Managers that spent time with me discussing even the most basic of issues are laying the ground work for innovation, with both themselves and with us in the US.  THANK YOU to them for allowing me to be a part of their experiences!

Off to Madrid, Spain for the weekend before Porto, Portugal next week for the ESSMA Head Grounds Managers seminar.  Cheers to all of you for a fantastic weekend!

Day 3: Go, Go, Go!

Day 3 in the UK started at St. George’s Park, Home of the English FA.  Having hotels in the center of a soccer facility is unique and very convenient for us!

As mentioned, the training ground is absolutely fantastic.  Many thanks to Mr. Alan Ferguson and Mrs. Carol Ferguson for their hospitality and kindness.  With studying reinforcement, in particular Desso, the 1st couple of days of the trip.. it was fitting that the Desso sewing processes was taking place on a field for us to observe.  Very interesting and thought-provoking stuff!

Desso Sewed Into Sand

Desso Sewed Into Sand

The 2nd stop of the day was at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).  Know for their research and consultancy around the world, visiting STRI was even more interesting than I could have ever expected.  Many thanks to Dr. Christian Spring and Mr. Ian Anderson for the tour and the in-depth discussions.  The research trials at STRI were eye-opening on a few different topics related to high traffic grass fields… topics that we will be discussing in the future on this blog.

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Upon leaving STRI, we next stopped in at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.  Home of Leeds Rugby.  Unique to anything I’ve ever seen, Leeds Headingley is back to back with the Leeds Cricket Ground, actually sharing a stand with it.  Fantastic environment for both sports!  Also fantastic is the pitch produced by Mr. Jason Booth & Mr. Ryan Golding.  Wow.  What great information they shared with me and an even more fascinating story on reconstruction that is a bold elimination of the difference in US and UK groundsmanship.  Many thanks to them for their time.  Great great stuff…  Obviously more to come on that!

Mr. Ryan Golding & Mr. Jason Booth of Headingley Carnegie Stadium

Mr. Ryan Golding & Mr. Jason Booth of Headingley Carnegie Stadium

The day ended with spending time with Mr. Carl Pass, owner of Premier Pitches. Many thanks to him for his time and hospitality! Premier Pitches is one of the most specialized field contractors in the world for field renovation.  Mr. Pass’s unique and special Desso renovation tools aided in the birth of many of the renovation techniques discussed on this blog.  Many thanks to Mr. Pass for his time and his hospitality.

Premier Pitches Renovating Desso at St. George's Park This Past Spring

Premier Pitches Renovating Desso at St. George’s Park This Past Spring

2 more days left in the UK before heading off to Madrid for the weekend…  Day 3 absolutely was eye-opening and has aided in many, many new ideas being created.  I am looking forward to more great things to come!!

Arrival & Exploration

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The 1st day of exploring the UK was absolutely superb all around.  Superb and eye opening observations.  Superb and in-depth discussions.  Superb weather and travel conditions.  Many, many, many thanks to the man I consider the UK/ USA grass field ambassador…. Mr. Simon Gumbrill.  Simon single-handedly is bring 2 very different worlds of groundsmanship together.  As always,  his hospitality, graciousness, and ideas are 1st rate.  Thank you to him for taking the time to take me around the country!

One of the exploration and idea collection points of this trip focuses around stability and reinforcement of rootzones for heavy use.  The UK climate brings large amounts of rain and cold winters, yet most high level stadiums/ field in the UK never fight divoting and sand stability issues like American fields.  Why??

Mr. Anthony Stones of Wembley Stadium, and Mr. Paul Ashcroft of Emirates Stadium (At Wembley)

Mr. Anthony Stones of Wembley Stadium, and Mr. Paul Ashcroft of Emirates Stadium (At Wembley)

With that in mind, our 1st stop on Monday was Wembley Stadium.  Wembley hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers & Minnesota Vikings Sunday night,  just 12 hours prior to our visit. Many, many thanks to Mr. Anthony Stones and his staff for hosting us the morning after such an event.  Absolutely 1st class to take the time to see us, talk with us, and to be so open with us.

And the Wembley pitch was fantastic as well.  Reinforced w/ Desso, American football had barely nicked the field.  But the NFL game is only part of the story.  Wembley had perviously hosted Roger Waters  “The Wall” concert 2 weeks prior on Sat. Sept. 14.  (Yes, the same “The Wall” concert that toured the US last summer, decimating stadium fields across the country and leading to hundreds of thousands of square feet of sod replacement).  Yet even with it 2 weeks before an NFL game, Wembley sodded 0 sq ft following the concert.

Even more remarkable is that the field had sustained multiple rugby and soccer matches prior to the NFL and concert following a seeding renovation to repair the field from a month of concerts in June.  Absolutely amazing!!  More to come on HOW this was possible in upcoming days…..

Mr. Steve Braddock at Arsenal's Training Ground

Mr. Steve Braddock at Arsenal’s Training Ground

Our 2nd stop of Monday was at Arsenal’s Shenley Training Ground to see Mr. Steve Braddock.  Mr. Braddock is truly an artist, as the pitches were as strong as ever. Thank you to Steve for taking the time to talk about so many topics and to trade so many different possibilities.  With over 10 fields, the training ground is a large facility… but that doesn’t keep Steve and his strong staff from producing amazing results. More to come on observations… in particular from seeing 5 more Desso sewed fields.

Water Across the Perfect Emirates Stadium Pitch Before Training

Water Across the Perfect Emirates Stadium Pitch Before Training

Lastly on Monday, Mr. Paul Ashcroft allowed us to pay him a visit at Emirates Stadium late in the evening to see his masterpiece known as the Emirates Stadium pitch.  With Napoli FC training for their Champions League match against Arsenal, their work during a fast paced training session on the Desso pitch highlighted some of the strong points Mr. Ashcroft was kind enough to share with us.  Thank You to him for taking the time to see us, even being busy!

In observing 12 immaculate fields on my 1st day, even following American football/ nearly 2 months into season training/ immediately follow a hard working training session, I quickly was reminded again how different our thinking and quality is in the USA is compared to the top facilities in the UK.  With all the fields being high traffic,  7 of the 12 fields reinforced with Desso, and none ever getting sod work…..  the number of additional questions for me to get answered grows.  Much, much more on the amazing things seen are to come!

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Field Maintenance Survey: Have 5 Mins?

Happy Wednesday!  This morning GrowingGreenGrass has the privilege to assist a friend of the #revolution, Mr. Chase Straw.  Mr. Straw is a graduate student at the University of Georgia.  He is collecting some field maintenance information as part of his thesis research via an online survey.

UGA Field Maintenance Survey

From Mr. Straw:

“The purpose of the survey is to gather data to get an idea of cultivation practices implemented at all levels (professional, park and rec., etc.) of athletic field management. Then (the study) will look at each level and determine the frequency of cultivation practices, reasons as to why or why not they cultivate, concerns about managing natural turfgrass fields, etc.”

With the data, Mr. Straw will be able to get a better idea of what the concerns are of managing athletic fields at each level then use this data to brainstorm future research projects and also justify the projects they have currently going on.

Absolutely wonderful stuff!  Please take a couple of minutes and fill out the survey if you can, and even pass it along to our peers.

The link again is:  UGA Field Maintenance Survey

TurfNet Sports: Aggressive Tactics Key to Managing Soccer Complex

From TurfNet Sports, Sept. 7, 2013

http://www.turfnetsports.com/page/news.html/_/aggressive-tactics-key-to-managing-soccer-complex-r152

Aggressive Tactics Key to Managing Soccer Complex

Sep 07 2013 08:00 AM | John Reitman
Jerad Minnick discusses turf management during a demo day at Maryland SoccerPlex.
Jerad Minnick discusses turf management during a demo day at Maryland SoccerPlex.

Jerad Minnick has never calculated the point of diminishing returns as it relates to the cost of seed at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but he knows he hasn’t come close to reaching it yet.

Minnick, head groundskeeper at the 22-field complex in Boyds, Md., since 2009, renovated the facility’s main stadium field last year, with Barenbrug’s Turf Blue Kentucky bluegrass that is enhanced with HGT technology. At $4 per pound, the seed, he says, is worth every penny.
The selection of HGT, which stands for Healthy Grass Technology, along with Jump Start Kentucky bluegrass and a regimen of agronomic practices that he learned overseas, have helped Minnick, 34, produce mid-season playing conditions that he didn’t realize were possible on cool-season turf.
“Grass can take a lot more traffic than we give it credit for,” Minnick said.
“We’ve played 120 events on the stadium field, and you can’t tell it’s been played on.”
Barenbrug’s HGT (Healthy Grass Technology), which entered the market in 2011, was developed from naturally stress-tolerant plants. Its traits include improved heat and wear tolerance, rapid establishment and quick recovery.
The stadium field at the Maryland SoccerPlex was ready for play 35 days after seeding. Thanks to a program of aggressive agronomic practices, he’s been able to keep it in like-new condition.
Within 60 days of seeding, the complex had hosted several tournaments, including the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s championship that was decided on the stadium field 75 days after seeding. Minnick now uses HGT on the other cool-season fields at the complex as well.
Hundreds of games each year are played at the 160-acre complex that includes 10 cool-season turfgrass fields, nine Bermudagrass fields and three that are carpeted with synthetic turf. The complex near Washington, D.C., is open every day except New Year’s, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and keeping the fields ready for play at all times is critical.
“If it snows in December, January or February, we have to clear it immediately and get it open,” said Minnick, who has managed the fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex since 2009.
Producing championship conditions is as much about agronomic practices as it is turf selection.
“Aggressive cultivation is the key,” Minnick said. “Each field has something done to it every two weeks. We have an aerifier and a verticutter running all the time. That is how we keep grass on our fields.”
Minnick earned a bachelor’s degree in turfgrass science at the University Missouri and was in his last semester of graduate school in 2002 when he accepted a job with the Kansas City Royals. He spent 2007-09 across town prepping with Sporting KC, Kansas City’s Major League Soccer franchise.
Since heading the soccer complex, Minnick has visited dozens of European soccer facilities. While overseas, he met people like Simon Gumbrill from Campey Turfcare and Barclays Premier League groundskeepers Paul Burgess of Real Madrid and Steve Braddock of Arsenal. Each taught him various things about the European way to manage turf, which includes regular agronomic practices throughout the playing season.
For example, Braddock said he runs a deep tine aerifier over Arsenal’s practice fields on a monthly basis, alternating between depths of 6 inches to 10 to 12 inches throughout the playing season. When the season is over, he scrapes the field clean of its cover using the Imants Koro Field Topmaker in a process called Fraze mowing and establishes a new field for the next season.
This process removes all organic matter from the surface and each year results in improved drainage at the surface, Braddock said. It’s a philosophy that is not taught at U.S. turf schools, but it is something that is widely used by turf managers in other parts of the world.
“All my practices have been self taught using what I believe is common sense over the years.” Braddock said.
“My belief is that practical experience is more beneficial as the person can see what tasks they are carrying out will have a positive impact on the surface and learning about how important timing can be when conducting tasks.”
Fraze mowing Bermudagrass at Maryland SoccerPlex.
Fraze mowing Bermudagrass at Maryland SoccerPlex.

Minnick wasn’t a believer at first, but he is now. His program in Maryland includes aggressive agronomic practices throughout the playing season, including almost constant aerification except during the most extreme summer conditions. He renovates the stadium field each year and uses the Fraze mowing method on actively growing Bermudagrass. The process removes thatch, ryegrass, Poa annua and leaves Bermudagrass stolons exposed. Scarifying in two directions promotes better lateral growth of the Bermudagrass. Minnick rotates through the other cool-season and warm-season fields, renovating several each year. He doesn’t yet renovate all every year, but, as he says, “we are moving in that direction.”

“I didn’t think it was possible either seven or eight years ago,” he said. “The fields we do the most to always look the best.
“To me, the biggest mistakes people make are too much water, too much nitrogen and not enough aerification. Granted, I’m not going to do it if it is 105 degrees outside. We were still solid tining to open the organic layer when we broke a record for most consecutive hours above 80 degrees.”
It has come as no surprise to Erik Ervin, Ph.D., who was a professor at Missouri when Minnick was a student there, that his former pupil has adopted such revolutionary tactics.
“Jerad was not your usual undergrad,” said Ervin, who is now a professor at Virginia Tech. “He was a polite young man who introduced himself right away and asked insightful questions. He was a leader in our turf club, and I was not surprised to follow his success as we both moved from Missouri to the East Coast for promotions. Jerad is willing to try new things, but reads, discusses and experiments before going all in with his unique turf care practices.”
Minnick maintains the stadium field at nine-sixteenths of an inch and the other cool-season surfaces at heights of 1 to 1.75 inches.
“I like to manipulate the turf,” he said. “If you add a quarter inch, that’s 25 percent more photosynthetic surface.
“I try not to mow as much, but I don’t shy away from cultural practices.”
The Bermuda fields at the complex, which include Patriot, are overseeded with a mix of Barenbrug’s SOS and RPR ryegrasses, are maintained at a height of about one-half inch during the summer when they subjected to 40 hours of play per week.
“We load them up in the summer,” Minnick said. “Summer camps are big for us. Kids are on those fields from 9 to 5, and the Bermuda is perfect. It doesn’t wear out.”
Adopting new methods of doing things is nothing new for Minnick. He currently is evaluating HGT Kentucky bluegrass as an overseed option, and also is evaluating performance characteristics of several vareities of Bermudagrass, including Patriot, Latitude 36, NorthBridge and Riveria. He believes looking for better ways to produce healthy, stress-tolerant playing surfaces quickly should be the norm, not the exception.
“Why are we still talking about all of these old ideas? We need to get rid of them. If we continue to learn new things, thinking like this will be the norm in five years.
“Some people say it is far-fetched, but others in other parts of the world have been doing it this way for a long time. In Europe, it’s been mostly on ryegrass. In Australia it’s been on Bermuda. When we take it to bluegrass, yes, we’re setting new trends. I like to think of the day when people will look back and think of when they thought grass couldn’t take a lot of traffic.”

 

UPDATED: IMPRESSIVE RESULTS: Fraze Mowing Bermudagrass

The impact of fraze mowing bermudagrass is beginning to show.  Fields that were “cleaned off” at Maryland SoccerPlex and at FC Dallas Park are all setting themselves apart.

Maryland SoccerPlex fields that were “cleaned off” are illustrating improved wear tolerance, even just 6 weeks after fraze mowing.  During a lacrosse tournament last weekend, SoccerPlex Patriot bermudagrass fields hosted 34 lacrosse matches per bermudagrass field in rainy, humid conditions.  The durability from the fraze mowed fields was far superior.  The treatments have been the same; no fertilizer and 1 pass w/ 3/8″ hollow coring tines on 1″ centers; accept that the non-fraze mowed fields were scarified to promote recovery. The results follow….

Fields Not Fraze Mowed:

Bermudagrass Field That was Not Fraze Mowed

Day 1: Bermudagrass Field That was Not Fraze Mowed

Day 7 of Recovery on Fields Not Fraze Mowed

Day 7 of Recovery on Fields Not Fraze Mowed

UPDATED

Non Fraze Mowed:  Day 14 of Recovery From 34 Lacrosse Matches

Non Fraze Mowed: Day 14 of Recovery From 34 Lacrosse Matches

Because bermudagrass is so quick to recover, it is accepted before such a lacrosse event that the bermudagrass will nearly be completely worn away.  The bermuda is able to recover completely within 2-3 weeks even at this pace.

Then that is compared to the fields that were fraze mowed 6 week prior to hosting 34 lacrosse matches in 4 days.  Results:

Field That Was Fraze Mowed 6 Weeks Prior to 34 Lacrosse Matches

Day 1:  Field That Was Fraze Mowed

Day 7 of Recovery on Fraze Mowed Field

Day 7 of Recovery on Fraze Mowed Field

UPDATED

Day 14 of Recovery:  Fraze Mowed Field from 34 Lacrosse Matches (W/ Soccer Camps/ Clinics All 14 Days)

Day 14 of Recovery: Fraze Mowed Field from 34 Lacrosse Matches (W/ Soccer Camps/ Clinics All 14 Days)

The results speak for themselves.  Yes, in both pictures the field is extremely worn initially on Day 1.  However, look closer and compare the amount of green tissue remaining on the ground in the fraze mowed picture compared to the field not fraze mowed.  The field not fraze mowed is nearly all dirt where new bermuda will need to push back up through the soil or have sprigs added to the area.  The fraze mowed field still has nearly 75% cover, so the plants can quickly grow back in the worn area.

Keep in mind that fraze mowing took place only 6 weeks prior on 3 fields:

Fraze Mowing w/ KORO Universe Field Topmaker

Fraze Mowing w/ KORO Universe Field Topmaker

Field Comparisons In 6 Weeks Before 34 Lacrosse Games

Field Comparisons In 6 Weeks Before 34 Lacrosse Games

Because of the increase in durability of the fraze mowed bermudagrass, it is recovering in only 1 week.  Not only does this allow the field to recover faster, but it can allow for the fields to sustain even more play.  Win. Win.

So WHY is the difference so vast already?

1)  Re-growth is more durable:  Just 6 weeks after the field was cleaned off completely, the re-growth back up through the soil is much stronger.  The number of growing points has multiplied and the cleats go into the soil instead of thatch to reduce shearing/ tearing/ increasing traction.

2) Organic removal reduces moisture and compaction potential:  During the 4 day lacrosse tournament, wet and rainy conditions prevailed.  The drying speed of the fraze mowed fields was much faster than the non-fraze mowed fields, and the 3 fields that were “cleaned off” historically hold water the longest.  WHY?  The organic layer was removed, so water was not held in the organic layer as long and allowed to soak into the native soil faster.  The organic removal also reduced the compaction potential at the soil surface.

The FC Dallas Training Field is also experiencing similar superior wear tolerance:

FC Dallas 1st Team Training Field:

Organic/ Thatch Build Up in 2012

Organic/ Thatch Build Up in 2012

Thatch/ Organic Build Up AFTER Fraze Mowing in 2013

Thatch/ Organic Build Up AFTER Fraze Mowing in 2013

The pictures also illustrate the difference in the quality of the bermudagrass re-growth.  Without having to grow up through thatch and having more growing points, the picture illustrates how much stronger the bermudagrass is after fraze mowing.  Additionally, the poa is removed as well.

The FC Dallas Training field has been in use daily for nearly 3 months and is illustrating superior wear tolerance, especially through the high traffic areas:

iphone photos 701

MORE SUCCESS: Fraze Mowing Bermudagrass In North Carolina

On Tuesday of last week, KORO Universe® fraze mowing was introduced to bermudagrass in northeast eastern  North Carolina.  The results of the process continue to be amazing:

Celebration Bermudagrass Cleaning w/ KORO Universe at Shallowest Depth

Celebration Bermudagrass Cleaning w/ KORO Universe at Shallowest Depth

Celebration Bermudagrass Cleaned Out 2 w/ KORO Universe

Celebration Bermudagrass Cleaned Out Deeper w/ KORO Universe

Mat of Thatch & Organic on 419 Removed to Expose Stolons & Rhizomes

Mat of Thatch & Organic on 419 Removed to Expose Stolons & Rhizomes

Mr. Sam Green, Director of Business Development at Aqua Aid, set up the demonstration in North Carolina.  Mr. Simon Gumbrill of Campey Turf Care (Manchester, UK) and Mr. Hans DeKort of Imants (Reusel, Netherlands) were both in attendance, along with Mr. Andrew Green from McDonald Design Group to evaluate the potential of the process.  The potential for the golf market is very big, for de-thatching/ durability/ and for cleaning up to prepare for overseeding.

More updates to come on the re-establishment of the bermudagrass!