Dear Ms. Meyers:

Having just read the article “Trends in the Synthetic Turf Industry” published in the February edition of SportsField Management magazine. I feel that several statements made in the article are misrepresentations of actual facts. These statements are as follows:

1) Synthetic Turf “eliminates the use of toxic pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides.”

A. Fact: Not all pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides (also a pesticide) are “toxic.” Pesticide technology provides sports field managers with products that the EPA requires no signal word designation for, essentially deeming them completely nontoxic. Fertilizers are all naturally occurring elements that are in no way “toxic.” Herbicide options include numerous organic products that are naturally occurring.

2) “It is hard for a grass field to remain lush and resilient if used more than three or four days a week, in the rain, or during months when grass is dormant.”

A. Fact: Sports field managers across the world are able to maintain grass fields that sustain some sort of traffic every day of the week.

B. Fact: Sand “bases” for sports fields, both synthetic and grass, are design to allow water to infiltrate in order to continue play in heavy rain.

C. Fact: 1/5 of the states that make up the USA have weather that allows grass growth 12 months of the year.

3) “The lack of an accessible outdoor field presented problems for many of the students, particularly those who use wheelchairs and walkers that would sink into natural grass playing surfaces.”

A. Fact: Handicapped children participate in programs on grass fields 365 days a year around the United States with no use issue whatsoever.

4) “Depending on the region of the country, one full-size synthetic turf sports field can save 500,000 to 1 million gallons of water each year.”

A. Fact: Synthetic turf field installations are now requiring watering systems for cleaning and for cooling the extreme heat reflected by the carpet.

5) “Synthetic turf helps reduce noxious emissions that could be harmful to the environment. According to the EPA, lawn mowers are a significant source of pollution that impairs lung function, inhibits plant growth, and is a key ingredient of smog.”

A. Fact: The emissions from lawn mowers are no different than the emissions from any other internal combustion engines

B. Fact: Via research from North Carolina State University and Colorado State University, maintained natural grass sequesters .44 tons of C02 per acre per year. That is the equivalent of driving a car 3,000 miles.

Thank you for taking the time to look into these five points. Your attention to this is very much appreciated. It is unfortunate that the article lacked any information on actual “trends” to help those of us who maintain synthetic fields along with our natural grass fields.


Jerad R. Minnick

Hi Katie,

I just wanted to pass along some thoughts regarding the article on the field conditions [Editor’s Notes] in your February issue.

My name is Percy Caraballo and I own plus manage a small contracting business called Cutting Edge Lawn Service and Landscaping located in Pine Island, N.Y. I just wanted to share some personal experience with you regarding field conditions and liabilities.

You see every spring we bid on municipal and government contracts with towns, counties and school districts in our territory, which is northern New Jersey and the Hudson Valley in New York, which includes some eastern parts of Pennsylvania. The last few years the pricing on annual contracts has dropped so dramatically that it is almost impossible for any good contractor to continue to do a quality job and make a profit in this area.

I have seen pricing drop 70 percent! Yes, 70 percent of historical normal highs to current levels and a host of new bidders who used to maintain anything from condos to pools jumping into our area of expertise. These contractors have no idea how to maintain, paint, clean up, seed and fertilize a football, baseball or even a soccer field. So, the quality of the work is subpar, to say the least. Worse yet, since the sealed bid process normally takes the lowest responsible bidder and awards contracts to these companies, the work usually does not get completed and/or worse they ruin a perfectly good field. The budgets seem to control the quality, and as long as someone is willing to work for free they will get the job, unfortunately. …

I always say you get what you pay for, and if the quality of work continues to diminish because of pricing, the municipalities and schools will eventually have to pay the price.

Percy Caraballo

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