Landscape Architect & Specifier News

MAR 2015

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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122 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Notes from the Turfgrass Producers International Education Conference by LASN Product Editor Larry Shield About 10 percent of sport field-related lawsuits claim improperly maintained fields, said John Sorochan, PhD, of the University of Tennessee at the Turfgrass Producers International Education Conference at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., Feb. 17. PhOTO: LARRy ShIELD The Turfgrass Producers International Education Conference was held Feb. 16-19 at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. As LASN product editor, I was at the show on the 17th, and attended the presentation: "Comparing Natural Turfgrass and Artificial Turf for Use on Athletic Fields," by John Sorochan, PhD, of the University of Tennessee. "Tennessee is in a transition zone between warm and cool season grasses," explained Sorochan. "It's a great place to test grasses because if you can grow grass here, you can grow it anywhere." The Center for Athletic Field Safety at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville tests 25 types of sports turf on five acres. The center's research includes ways to lower the number of athletic field injuries. The U.S. spends about $49 billion a year to treat youth sports related injuries. According to Sorochan about 10 percent of sport field related lawsuits claim the fields were improperly maintained. He reported 18 states have banned the use of insecticides on fields that host youth sports events, which has led to the increased use of synthetic turf. "Weed pressure will increase if pesticides are banned," said Sorochan. "We have to look at the reality of doing what's needed to keep kids safe." Sorochan believes that banning of some pesticides is not necessary, and in fact may come down to applicators simply reading and following the application instructions. For instance, DuPont makes acelypryn for controlling grubs, which he says is a safe, nontoxic product, as long as kids are prevented from playing on a sprayed field for at least 24 hours, and preferably 48 hours. "We look at playing surfaces for consistency and reliability," said Sorochan. "Why is the playing surface quality so important? Traction is important, which is defined as the force generated by the foot and release of the foot. Too much traction results in hyperextensions." Tennessee Athletic Field Tester (TAFT) simulated the movement of a 210-lbs. athlete on different surfaces. Artificial turf had more resistance to movement than natural turf, according to Sorochan. Whether wet or dry, the most consistent surface was Kentucky bluegrass, which limits injuries. Sorochan said the wave of the future for sports turf could be a hybrid between natural turf and artificial, called Xtra Grass. It has a mesh surface of artificial grass, but allows for room for natural grass to fill in empty spaces. "What does the research tell us about the next generation of low pile hybrid systems?" said Sorochan. "These systems seem to provide better coverage for longer periods of time and also protect athletes better on the playing surface." I n f o r m a t i o n R e q u e s t # 6 1 2

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