Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Purdue University Varsity Soccer Complex Field Renovation

Good afternoon on this beautiful 80 degree spring day in West Lafayette, Indiana. As a Turf Science & Management student and a part-time student employee of the Intercollegiate Athletics Department Sports Turf Crew, I scout out opportunities where I can employ my passion and love for this industry. Yesterday, Tuesday, May 6 I got to assist in the field renovation out at the Varsity Soccer Complex located just northwest of campus at the corner of McCormick Road & Cheery Lane. As an undergraduate student to have this opportunity to take part in this kind operation is invaluable. Not only were we renovating the field, but the way we were renovating the field is a first of its kind done on a Bermudagrass (Patriot/ Rivera ) collegiate field. This term that is used for this type of operation is called "Fraze Mowing". I will continue to go into more detail about this operation and why Sports Turf Managers choose this method.
This operation has not yet been studied at university turf research centers and is slowly but surely "sticking" with Sports Turf Managers. Fraze Mowing originated from Europe on football (soccer) pitch renovations as annual practice. A gentlemen named Jerad Minnick, President/Founder of Growing Innovations made a visit across the pond to get a first hand look on how this exactly is done. After seeing the extraordinary results it has on their pristine football pitches, he brought the idea back to the United States and gave it a try, and found the same results. The Varsity Soccer Complex is a 7 year old sprigged Bermudagrass field with a sand slit drainage system and has been sand capped over years of intense topdressing. After discussing our options for field renovation and sitting through educational seminars on the success of this operation, we concluded that this was the best route. Fraze Mowing is an extremely aggressive cultural practice that is very beneficial in supporting the health of the turfgrass. The goal of Fraze Mowing is to remove P. Ryegrass overseeding, Poa annua & weed seed, thatch/organic layer build-up, and smooth the surface of the top of the field. This operation is done by using a piece of machinery called KORO Universe Field Topmaker. It took about 9 hours to clean off the surface of the soccer field.  We will follow up with a core aerification to relieve soil compaction and sand top dress to give a good growing environment for the exposed stolons. The fertility regimen will consist of granular and foliar applications throughout the rest of the growing season. The field should be in perfect playing condition by the end of July.
Having the opportunity to assist in such a revolutionary field renovation was unimaginable in my undergraduate tenure here at Purdue University and can only help me for my future career in the Sports Turf industry. I look forward in continuing to keep you up-to-date with my travels overseas to Ireland and Scotland throughout the summer.
-Andrew J. Wilhelm

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