Tired Of Natural Turf Taking A Timeout?

What would you do with a field that does not require downtime and never needs mowed, fertilized, weeded, trimmed, watered, aerated or dethatched? How would your agency capitalize in hosting a constant string of events? Would a synthetic-turf field be your nirvana?

Synthetic turf sports fields are an option.

Economical And Ecological Price

“There is an increased demand for field time, but limited availability, especially considering the potential for inclement weather and seasonal downtimes,” says Todd Britton, marketing manager for AstroTurf, a company that offers multi-sport and specialized synthetic-turf systems.

A recently completed study from BASF, a chemical company, reviewed the environmental and economic impact of synthetic-turf fields in comparison to natural-grass fields. The results were verified by NSF International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, which is a world leader in standards development, product certification, education and risk-management for public health and safety.

The study evaluated the environmental and economic cost of a natural field versus three types of synthetic-grass fields with these surfaces:

• Nylon

• Polyethylene

• Hybrid blend (nylon and polyethylene).

The study measured the energy- and resource consumption, emissions, toxicity and risk potential, and land-use impact to manufacture, use, and dispose of each type. Additionally, the life-cycle costs were determined for materials, labor, manufacturing, waste disposal and energy consumption.

“The study found that over a 20-year time period, a synthetic field costs 15 percent less than a natural-turf field,” Britton says. “With a synthetic-turf field, you eliminate the vast majority of maintenance costs while increasing the available playing time with fields.”

What's underneath the turf

Meeting Increased Demand

A multipurpose 75,000-square-foot recreational sport natural-turf field has the upper-end ability to support 600 hours of event activity per year. This is equivalent to 200 unique three-hour events. A synthetic-turf field of the same size, however, can sustain up to 3,000 hours of activity per year without rest.

While a synthetic-turf field might seem like a maintenance “get-out-of-jail-free” card, it’s not. “If someone tells you it is maintenance-free–that’s impossible,” says Erick Maki, vice president of Marketing and Sales for AmeriTurf. “The surfacing needs to be maintained, kept cleared of debris, and groomed with polypropylene brushes that stand the fibers back up.”

New Advances

A new shape of synthetic-grass fiber–dubbed Horseshoe Fiber–is longer on the edges of the blade and shorter in the center. The product has a 60-ounce face-weight, which is the unit of measure used to quantify the amount of lawn blade material used per square yard.

“It is much more durable fiber and heavier turf,” Andy Belles, brand manager for Astroturf, claims. “You are going to get maximum durability and life because of the increased column strength.”

Additionally, the upright fibers do not absorb as much of the heat from the sun. They also are treated with heat-reflective technology, as well as UV stabilizers.

Choosing The Right Synthetic Grass

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