A study at The Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Research and Education Center (OTF) in Columbus, OH is looking at the interactive effects of sand shape, turf species, and type of hybrid turf system on field performance and wear tolerance.

Hybrid turf is a combination of polypropylene fibers attached to a weaved biodegradable backing mixed in with natural turf. Hybrid turf systems are generally believed to improve lateral shear strength. In the project, Eclipse and HERO hybrid systems from The Motz Group, Cincinnati, are being studied. One of the major differences between Eclipse and HERO is that the HERO hybrid system’s fibers are the same height as the natural turf, whereas Eclipse hybrid system’s fibers are shorter than the height of the natural turf. The turf species in this project are Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and perennial ryegrass, all of which are already being used in professional soccer stadiums.

Finally, the two sands utilized are angular sand and round sand. The angular sand the same size and particle density as USGA green sand and the round sand is 100% silica. The plots are being mowed three times a week at 1 inch with a 30-inch, all-electric Cub Cadet Infinicut mower. The round sand has shown differences compared to the angular sand as far as percent coverage of turf during the establishment phase during the fall of 2017. Establishment data was taken in case differences found during the actual data collection, scheduled for summer 2018 and summer 2019, can be tied back to differences in establishment.

Sand type was a major consideration for the creation of this project because constructing athletic fields on a sand base allows for more rapid drainage. The round sand has an infiltration rate of 108.2 inches per hour whereas the angular sand had a much lower infiltration rate of 41.5 inches per hour. In short, the project’s main goal is to compare all the elements to determine which leads to the highest performance for elite level soccer matches, while also keeping player safety in mind.

The secondary goal is to achieve a surface hardness, measured via Gmax, which ensures player safety. Measurements taken to achieve these goals will include Gmax, traffic, establishment, quality, soil moisture and sheer strength. By achieving these goals, elite level soccer teams will be able to have both safer fields and higher levels of player performance on more sustainable hybrid turf fields.

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