Playing Football & Going Green with Synthetic Turf
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In recent years there has been a real surge at converting natural grass athletic fields into artificial or synthetic turf fields. One big question often comes up: How in the world can a plastic grass field be better environmentally than a natural grass field?
Well, that exact question drove the analysis on what it takes to keep a natural field in operating condition. After all, there is much more than just mowing a field to keep it at least green.
After reviewing authoritative sites on “turf management” which ranged from high level collegiate, to national turf-management associations, it quickly became evident that maintaining a sport field for elite or high levels of play is exceedingly difficult. Not to mention, the grass fields really couldn’t be used with frequency.
Some quick bullet points on what a high caliber natural grass field requires to stay green, safe and playable.
Mowing & general maintenance, once or twice a week
Fertilization at least 5x’s a year and up to 40,000 lbs of fertilizer
Watering up to 1” to 1.5” per week, less winter in some areas of the US
From this list of “to do” items, the time, money and environmental impact of maintaining a sports field adds up quickly. By comparison synthetic turf playing fields have key advantages.
Advantages of a synthetic turf field:
Minimal to no maintenance throughout its life (8-years or longer)
Tested for player safety (head impact & Gmax)
Recyclable (most modern field product can be repurposed)
Usage time is 3x’s greater then natural grass
ROI: As an investment, the synthetic turf field Return on Investment (ROI) can be achieved well within its lifetime based simply on total events or hours of use requiring zero maintenance. For example, the synthetic grass field can be used day and night, 7-days a week, with not an hour of maintenance to sustain its usability.
From the onset, it appears the technology and durability of synthetic turf fields are here to stay. As a green initiative and green product, a synthetic field has many advantages over a natural grass field. The sheer elimination of pesticides alone, not leaching into ground water, is more than enough reason to consider a field with synthetic grass, but the list of advantages is far greater.
Ohio State University: www.ohioline.osu.edu/srt-fact/0002.html Rutgers University: www.cpe.rutgers.edu/.../athletic-field/Maintaining-Athletic-Fields.pdf and www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/.../Bermudagrass_Athletic_Field_Maintenanc Special thanks to Blue Sky Turf (www.blueskyturf.com) for providing some of the information on this Synthetic Turf Report.