Supplement Feature - September 2013
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Grounds for Innovation

Turf Trends for Today & Tomorrow

By Chris Gelbach

Natural Advances

In part because of heat concerns, many warm-climate facilities continue to opt for natural grass. "Depending on what region of the South you're in, if you're in an area or a municipality where they really know how to take care of their grass fields, they really don't want synthetic turf because of the heat," said Dave Nardone, sport group leader for Stantec. "But others that want the low maintenance and consistency of synthetic are willing to overlook that."

Meanwhile, natural turf grasses are also advancing significantly in performance in heavy-duty applications, thanks to new research and breeding approaches. According to Goatley, these advances include new regenerating ryegrasses that are better able to creep and repair themselves; new turf-type tall fescues that are better adapted to sports turf applications; new hybrids that cross Kentucky and Texas bluegrasses; and upcoming advances in natural grasses that will do better under low-irrigation conditions.

Most notably, he notes the superior performance of next-generation Bermuda grasses. "If it can be grown in your climate, for most sports and for its durability and predictability in terms of performance and playability, these new generations of Bermuda grass that have been selected for cold tolerance are my primary recommendation," Goatley said.

Goatley also noted that researchers are making great strides in evaluating natural grasses for their suitability to sports applications. "One thing that's changing is how much simulated traffic that we're applying to some of these trials, particularly looking for distinctions in grasses and their tolerance to traffic that's definitely geared toward sports turf."