No, this isn’t a “Field of Dreams” revival. But we are talking about fields in Iowa – just not baseball fields in a cornfield.
These fields will be on a 3-acre plot north of the campus of Iowa State University that will be used to test soil content and research the effects of athletic use to improve turfgrass fields all across the Midwest. Right now, the area is a mud pit. But in a year’s time, professional-grade athletic fields will be installed in what should be a great addition to the industry’s research footprint.
According to a June report in the Ames (Iowa) Tribune, there will be three separate fields, each planted with a combination of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass after receiving three different soil treatments.
The first field will use a native soil, where the grass is planted on the soil without adding anything, according to the report. The next will be sand-capped, which involves adding 4 inches of sand on top of the soil. Dan Strey, a research assistant in Iowa State’s department of horticulture, told the Ames Tribune that this treatment is used on almost all professional and collegiate-level fields because it reduces compaction, increases aeration and provides better drainage. The final field will be treated with top-dressed soil, which is a long process that consists of adding sand in layers over time.
Strey also told the newspaper that a lot of the research involves traffic simulation, which will be done by using a machine that has two rollers with cleats screwed in.
The project broke ground in early June, and Strey said the next steps are to install an irrigation and drainage system for the fields. From there he hoped to begin planting in early August, with the perennial ryegrass grown in by the fall and the Kentucky bluegrass by next May. Then, in June or July of next year, the experimenting on the fields can begin.
COVER PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER GANNON | ISU NEWS SERVICE