Sports Field Management - August, 2012
Industry Advancements: Synthetic Solutions
Suppliers expect potential users to explore multiple options in synthetic turf systems and weigh the long-term cost-to-benefits ratio. Their latest introductions are designed to satisfy facility needs.
A close-up view of A-Turf's Titan SS installed on a multiuse field at John Jay High School in Michigan.
PHOTO COURTESY OF A-TURF.
Synthetic field systems
Gary Briley, director of extracurricular programs for Lake Travis Independent School District, in Austin, Texas, has high expectations for the FieldTurf Revolution installation at the Lake Travis High School stadium. He anticipates a direct impact on the school's entire extracurricular program, from practices and spectator events for the sports teams and band to year-round conditioning. Along with improved water conservation and lower maintenance requirements, the field is expected to generate revenue through an increase in rentals to outside groups.
Darren Gill, vice president of global marketing for FieldTurf, A Tarkett Sports Company (www.fieldturf.com), points to the innovations of the FieldTurf Revolution fiber system. "The unique shape, with numerous ridges that run from top to bottom alongside each face of the fiber, was created to eliminate breaking points in each artificial grass blade," says Gill. "Our proprietary polymer formulation resists splitting and degradation and includes ultraviolet inhibitor technology. A state-of-the-art extrusion process provides intricate concave and ridged construction to eliminate breaking points. The fibers are soft, yet strong, durable and long lasting."
A-Turf (www.aturf.com) introduced its latest advancement, the Titan SS. According to Jim Dobmeier, company president, it features the same durability, high face weight and dual fiber as the original Titan, but is designed for those who prefer an infill other than rubber and a shorter pile height. Dobmeier says, "The pile height is 1.5 inches, yet still features 50 ounces of fiber. The infill is typically sand or some variation of coated sand. The thick, durable Titan SS is normally installed over a shock pad for outstanding shock attenuation (equal to natural grass). The sports field manager gains long-term benefits from the consistent top playing conditions and terrific aesthetics with minimal maintenance. And, it's guaranteed for 12 years."
Todd S. DeWolfe, vice president of sales and marketing for ProGrass Synthetic Turf Systems (www.prograssturf.com), says, "The interest from customers and end users in replication of the biomechanics and ball playability of natural grass in synthetic turf systems has grown immensely. Testing fields for GMax and studded Lisport roll testing isn't good enough anymore. They're looking at ball roll, ball bounce, cleat interaction, climatic resistance, shock absorption and infill deformation - the whole FIFA standard. Turf companies are being held accountable for the playability and safety of their products. The Synthetic Turf Council (STC) adopted these standards this year. That's the biggest change I've seen in the industry and it's a good one."
The minor league Washington Wild Things have installed ProGrass PrimeTime Turf on the team's baseball field.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PROGRASS SYNTHETIC TURF SYSTEMS.
ProGrass created its PrimeTime Turf line to replicate grass for many sports, dubbing it "artificially real." DeWolfe says, "While the replicated grass lines can require more maintenance than some other turf systems, ProGrass, along with our strategic partner, ACT Global, are on the cutting edge of safety and testing for these systems. Recent testing of two professional spring training game fields for baseball showed that our PrimeTime Turf line falls in line with natural playability for baseball."
PrimeTime Turf Extreme WX 50 is a woven monofilament turf product developed and manufactured by ACT Global. DeWolfe says, "Its tensile strength is equal to its tuft bind, meaning the fiber will break before it comes out of the backing. The fiber goes in and out of the backing multiple times before resurfacing, which creates better support for the fiber than the typical monofilament tufting, which only goes in and out once."
Shaw Sports Turf (www.sportexe.com), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, introduced its TruHop synthetic turf system at the January 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings. According to Susan Burchett, brand manager, "TruHop was uniquely designed with baseball player feedback to mirror natural grass in terms of playability and performance, while providing the durability of a synthetic surface. The system can be engineered with various pile heights and infill ratios to fit each performance area of the field."
The heat factor is a continuing issue with synthetic turf systems. Domenic Carapella, managing director of Geo Turf by Limonta Sport USA (www.geoturfusa.com), says, "We have two independent tests, one from the University of Venice and the other from ISA Labs in Lubbock, Texas, that both confirm that Limonta Sport synthetic turf with organic InfillPro Geo maintains temperatures within 10 degrees Fahrenheit of natural grass, no matter the ambient temperature."
Turf Reclamation Services' specialty equipment in action, cutting and then rolling 42-inch-wide strips of synthetic turf from a field during the removal stage of the reclamation process.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TURF RECLAMATION SERVICES.
The two components of InfillPro Geo are cork and coconut fibers. Carapella says, "The highly sustainable production, with preservation of cork oak forests and utilization of a byproduct of coconut harvesting, results in no harmful environmental impact for their acquisition. The InfillPro Geo is installed over a layer of natural sand in the synthetic turf. The infill's very low thermal conductivity in conjunction with dissipation of absorbed moisture through evaporation into the air and permeation into the subsurface moderate the temperature. The high elasticity provides ideal GMax without a shock pad."
Synthetic turf system reclamation
Increasingly, facility owners are seeking "greener" alternatives to simple disposal of synthetic turf fields that have reached the end of their life cycle. Suppliers are offering multiple options to handle the demand.
The low bulk density of Limonta Sport USA's InfillPro Geo reduces the amount of material required for installation, resulting in less material to remove after the guaranteed life cycle of eight years. Carapella says, "The 100 percent organic infill mix is simply separated from the synthetic turf and is ready for reuse as topdressing for natural grass fields or in other landscape applications. No industrial or commercial recycling is necessary."
Turf Reclamation Services, LLC (www.recyclemyturf.com) was launched in March 2012. Like USGreentech (www.usgreentech.com), it is a division of The Motz Group. Mark Heinlein, president of the new division, says, "We started TRS to offer a turnkey solution for synthetic field reclamation. We've developed and are selling a complete line of equipment for removal of any brand synthetic field system. We also are offering the removal and reclamation services. One of the machines is an adapted retrofit version of a big roll sod laying machine that many will recognize. Our machine is user-friendly, with the familiar power base, small enough to maneuver easily, and lightweight and track-based so the subsurface will not be compromised in the removal process.
"Another of our machines, which is the first unit to hit the field, has two blades to cut the turf into ribbons 45 inches wide. It's followed by the retrofitted unit, which rolls up these turf strips with the infill intact, leaving the subsurface material exposed. The rolls are then loaded onto a truck to be taken to a reclamation center."
If Turf Reclamation Services is doing the work, they can extract the infill on-site to reuse or repurpose, but the rolls usually go to their reclamation center in Cincinnati. There the sand and rubber infill is mechanically extracted from the synthetic turf, put through a cleansing process and re-sieved. The infill can then be used in future fields, in other landscaping applications or as materials for other products.
Heinlein says, "Currently, with our field removals, the turf segments are cleaned in Cincinnati and then sent to our regional partner in Georgia to go through the reclamation process. We've gone with the 45-inch strips because they're the most efficient to handle for the grinding, melt down and re-compounding into material that can be recycled into a wide variety of products. At some point, we anticipate all of our centers will be equipped to handle reclamation."
Shaw Sportexe offers the Shaw Green Edge Recycling Program. According to Burchett, the extraction and reclamation of the infill is just part of the process. "Once a field is removed we have the ability to repurpose it in a variety of ways."
Shaw's Re2E or "Reclaim-to-Energy" facility, located in Dalton, Ga., can use reclaimed materials, such as turf fibers, for energy production, generating fuel for the company's numerous manufacturing locations. Shaw also has the ability to convert the reclaimed turf system into a resin/polymer state, which is then molded or extruded into new products such as carpet backing, mats and rugs.
Equipment for synthetic fields
"Go Groomer Go [www.gogroomergo.com] is available in a 4.5-foot size; a great fit for small indoor spaces or quick spot grooming of outdoor synthetic fields," says Michael Lynch. It has the same configuration as the 7 and 9-foot models, with four rows of light synthetic straight-line brushes that can be used with or without a single row of adjustable spring-loaded tines. The company's Inline Safety Magnet is compatible with all models.
The G4 4.5-foot model from Go Groomer Go has the same configuration as its 7-foot and 9-foot models, with four rows of brushes and the option of attaching a single row of spring-loaded tines as shown here.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GO GROOMER GO.
Byron Rieson, turf sales manager for Harper Industries, Inc. (www.deweze.com), says, "The patented recirculating air technology of the Harper TV40 allows it to be effective for cleanup on all types of fields, whether natural or artificial, with minimal dust and noise. The ground brush combined with a powerful vacuum will pick up either light or heavy debris. It can be adjusted so that the rubber particles in synthetic fields are left intact while debris is removed."
Wiedenmann North America (www.wiedenmannusa.com) will introduce the Terra Clean 160 in early 2013. It incorporates new technology to alleviate the dust buildup that occurs in artificial turf fields due to the deposit of airborne pollutants and through the gradual degradation of the rubber infill. The Terra Clean 160 deep cleans to a depth of 3/5 inch, collecting both fine and coarse particles. This material then passes through two sieves that separate the dirt from the rubber infill. The infill is returned to the field. The machine's turbine channels the dust particles through its three cyclone filters, depositing them in dust bags for easy disposal.
Will Wolverton, general manager for Wiedenmann North America, says, "The cyclone filters trap particles 10 times finer than standard paper or textile filters and work well in humid conditions that would clog standard filters. With a working width of 63 inches, the Terra Clean 160 will be available in both PTO-driven and engine-driven models."
The patented recirculating air technology of the Harper TV40 allows it to be effective for cleanup on both synthetic fields and natural grass fields such as the game field of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pictured here.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HARPER INDUSTRIES, INC.
The Kromer Company (www.kromerco.com) has introduced a complete system for its Field Commander line of tractors designed to fully rejuvenate the playability and safety characteristics of synthetic fields while improving aesthetics and increasing durability. President Ronn Ponath says, "The system addresses the common problems of infill compaction, fiber entanglement and capping, poor infiltration, dust and dirt contamination and uneven infill distribution. Our Synthetic Field Conditioning Groomer is able to decompact, break up and clean clumped infill, then redistribute and level it as the first step of our process. Then the Field Commander tractor, in conjunction with our Synthetic Field Finish Groomer, moves the infill, which has been brought to the surface, properly reinserting it within the straightened grass blade fibers, and stands the blades upright. Infill reinsertion is essential for proper support of the grass blade, preventing pile lean and flattening. High-pressure solution jets and a specially designed, hydraulically actuated groomer effectively perform this patent-pending process, leaving the field in game-ready condition. Static electricity is reduced, too."
Redexim North America (www.redexim.com) has developed an infill kit for its topdressers designed to fill in synthetic turf playing fields with sand and/or rubber. Paul Hollis, executive vice president, says, "The Infill Kit consists of a rake, a special brush kit and a kit for the hopper. Placed immediately behind the wheels of the topdresser, the rake pulls the fibers into a vertical position. This creates an opening for the infill material to drop down to the base of the carpet much easier. The special brush kit is positioned closer to the ground to ensure accurate distribution of the infill material."
As a cleaner power source for indoor facilities with synthetic turf, Redexim now offers a propane option for the Verti-Top tow-behind grooming machine. The propane container is the standard type used for a barbecue grill and is easy to mount.
A close-up view of the Kromer Synthetic Field Conditioning Groomer at work.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KROMER COMPANY.
James R. Day of Turf Teq (www.turfteq.com) reports that the Turf Teq Power Broom is effective for installing infill and for "blossoming" synthetic fields when the K1305DT wheel kit is mounted on the front of the machine. He says, "The wheel kit allows the brush to operate at a specific height for working on synthetic turf. The kit also allows the operator to adjust the height of the brush for different applications. The brush attachments can be angled in either direction from the operator's position to allow the aggregate to be brushed off to the side and to windrow excess if needed."
Whether it's new synthetic fiber or fabrication technology, infill materials, maintenance equipment or end of life cycle reclamation, sports field managers have multiple options to explore with the continuing innovation for synthetic turf fields.
The author is a contributing editor for SportsField Management.