Managing Sports Turf is like Managing Yourself
May 3, 2021 | By: Andrew Muntz
Managing sports turf in 2021 may prove to be one of the biggest challenges to date. 2020 was rough, but we live and learn. In my discussions with sports turf managers around the state, 2020 was a great reminder to get back to the basics. As somebody that relies on providing products, this article may not help in the sales category, but the reality is that managing grass with a reduced staff and budgets requires that you utilize what you have and when you have it.
Managing sports turf is often like taking care of your own body. When we get in the rush of life, we often forget to drink enough water, eat a well-balanced diet, get sleep, and that necessary exercise. Too often, we rely on pharmaceuticals when we should be focusing on the things we can control, consider them our “cultural practices.” We have all heard how these aspects will help our overall health, but in today’s fast-paced society, they get lost in the rush. Take a second before you dive into this growing season and think about how your field can benefit from the basic cultural practices.
Your Sports Turf Diet:
We perform our best when we eat what our body needs. Not too much, not too little. Your turf will do the same. Instead of blasting it with unnecessary fertilizers, get a soil test, and tailor your applications to what that grass needs to perform. Gluttony of too much fertilizer can lead to things like reduced root growth, disease, and insect infestation. Malnourishing your turf, similar to starving your body, can lead to different issues.
We need sleep. It’s a fact of life. Again, your fields are no different. They need rest, and in today’s day and age of do more with less, the users of the field have to realize that you can’t run 300 events on one field without giving it time to recover. We manage living organisms, and they need time to recuperate in between periods of stress.
This is one that probably seems pretty obvious, as sports turf managers struggle with water needs every year. 2021 will be no different. Take the time when you can afford to do it, and do an irrigation audit. Make sure your heads are providing even coverage, pop up when turned on, and monitor your timing as needed throughout the season. One thing I’ll see often is that irrigation cycles are in the “set it and forget it” mentality. In Ohio, we are blessed with a lot of natural rainfall during certain periods of the year. Your cycle in April will not be the same as it is in August. It can NOT be a set it and forget it mentality.
This one might be a bit of a stretch because you can’t exactly take your field for a walk or to the gym. There are, however, other things to make sure you are doing correctly. Aeration might be your biggest friend. If you have the equipment, use those tines to help build roots. Mow property, with sharp blades, following the 1/3 rule. Use all your fertilizers, pesticides, seed, etc, at the best time possible. Don’t throw seed in July if that’s the only seed you are going to have for the year. Use it when you will get the best bang for your buck in August/September. The same goes for other products.
Managing sports turf is made easier by taking care of yourself first
Now, this article has really been focused on managing sports turf, but if you know me, I take my personal health very seriously. Sleep is a must, eating properly is a way of life, exercise every day, and hydration comes without question. Take some time to help yourself. If you have some pounds to shed, do it. If you are sleep deprived, work on that. Find time in the day to take a walk or get a little extra exercise. Baby steps will lead to a healthier, more productive, and longer life. The realization that many people that have been greatly affected by the Covid 19 pandemic have underlying health conditions often caused by poor lifestyle choices, shouldn’t be overlooked. Control what you can control. Make a difference for yourself, your employer, and your family.