Sustainability in athletic field management practices has evolved to the point where it’s commonplace at many operations.

And that’s a good thing — for industry, the environment and the communities in which sustainable athletic fields are located.

Sustainability is about three things:

  • Ensuring profitable businesses;
  • Being environmentally responsible;
  • Being an asset to the community

To be clear, sustainability is not just a fancy word for being environmentally friendly. It’s also not about anything political or adding expenses to an already tight maintenance budget.

Carefully and mindfully caring for fields with consideration for the environment — and future generations — is now a way of life for many athletic field managers, and it seems that notion is certainly gaining ground within the industry. In SportsField Management’s 2016 State of the Industry Survey, 57 percent of respondents answered “Yes, we have committed to improving our environmental, economic and social components,” when asked “Have you embraced the concept of sustainability at your operation?” Furthering the point, 30 percent responded: “Not really, but I’m trying to learn more about sustainability.”

To further explaining what sustainability entails for athletic field management, we asked Oriana Persechini, Category Portfolio Manager at Intelligro, to expand on what the concept means to her company and the message they’re trying to convey to athletic field managers:


Oriana

Are sports turf managers doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?
Yes — they are continually challenged by stakeholders as expectations increase to turn around playing fields and deliver safe playing environments while budgets remain relatively flat. They are also dealing with increasing pressure and regulations to do more with less. We’re seeing these changes already with pesticide bans in Montgomery County in Mayland. It’s clear the industry is headed toward a more sustainable future and getting ahead of the game requires a proactive approach.

Describe what sustainability means to your company?
Our mandate is to create products focused on plant protection for more resourceful growth. We achieve this by focusing our research and development on proactive solutions, like CIVITAS Turf Defense, that put the plant’s health first. Instead of the traditional method of attacking the threat to save the plant, we believe in strengthening the plant first. This enables the plant to better protect itself from both biotic and abiotic stresses, and will require less inputs such as other pesticides and water.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to sports turf managers?
We want sports turf managers to know that we can help them deliver what their stakeholders are looking for — quality, recovery and playability while doing it in a more resourceful way. They can also be confident using a product that is listed with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). Using compliant products not only ensures you know what you’re getting, it also contributes to greater player safety, something that will always be top of mind for sports turf managers.

Experts Meet for 'Sports Turf Talk' Panel DiscussionWhat will sustainable practices look like ten, or even twenty, years from now?
Based on what’s happening globally, we expect to see sustainability continue to grow in importance. We remain committed to understanding customer needs in this changing industry. In-depth research and results backed by science enable us to continue to create innovative products that not only work but also use less active ingredients, ultimately reducing the environmental footprint.

Why do you think sustainability has advanced to be much more than simply a “buzz word?”
Sustainability is no longer a trend — it’s a way of living and working. It reaches far beyond the community, but that’s where it needs to start. Sustainability is about seeing the big picture and working together towards bet ter solutions for a better future.