Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International

New Trucking Bill introduced into the U.S. Congress

A new bill to tackle U.S. trucking regulations was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on January 10th, 2020. The bill, titled the “Freedom from Regulating Edible Supplies and Horticulture (FRESH) trucking act is sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL). This bill is similar to H.R. 1673 and S. 2025, which have already been introduced in the House and Senate. One notable difference in this bill for sod producers though is that it explicitly includes the term “sod” in the its language in regard to perishable agricultural commodities. The full language of the proposed bill can be found below as well as a link too Rep. Steube’s web page. TPI will continue to work on this issue impacting sod haulers to make sure that our members are included in future hours of service regulations and amendments, so be sure to watch our website and Industry Harvest e-newsletters for more information. As always, please reach out to us if you have questions or are able to help with any of these bills in your area.

 

Modification of Hours of Service Regulations

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall amend part 395 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to establish that, with respect to a motor carrier or driver transporting any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity (including both fresh and processed products, as well as sod and other agricultural products sensitive to temperature and climate and at the risk of perishing in transit)—

U.S. Congress Funds $3M in Turfgrass Research

With the December 20, 2019 signing of the FY20 Federal Appropriations bill by President Trump, turfgrass research conducted by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) received a significant increase.  The $3,000,000 in new funding boosted federal turfgrass research from $1,000,000 annually.

The new funding is allocated for research in turfgrass genomics, water efficient grasses and systems, and ecosystem services.  Genomics is the study, understanding and mapping of the genomes of major turfgrass species, of which very little research on these grasses has been conducted.  Understanding and mapping of genomes can lead to improved genetics, and subsequently better disease, heat, cold and drought tolerant grasses.

Research on water efficiency is critical to understanding the physiology of plants and how they respond to drought, reduced irrigation and low-quality irrigation water.  Ecosystem services refers to the contributions of turfgrass systems to the environment, society and the economy.  In other words, how does turfgrass provide benefits to the soil, water, air, human health and safety, and the economy, as well as how can those benefits be maximized.

The National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. (NTF) led the effort to obtain the funding, with significant assistance from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) and other allied associations.  The 2019 National Golf Day, organized by We Are Golf (www.wearegolf.org), significantly aided the effort as the funding request was a top priority for the 150+ participants on that day.  The new funding is an excellent first step in addressing priorities of the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI), as outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. (NTF) is a 501(c)6 non-profit with the mission of promoting the need for turfgrass research and its associated value to society through implementation of the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI) and its priorities.  NTRI is an industry-sponsored initiative to gain federal funding for turfgrass research, helping to solve the larger issues in the turfgrass industry.

For more information contact: Kevin Morris, National Turfgrass Federation kmorris@turfresearch.org.

CHASE FIELD GETS NATURAL GRASS FOR CHEEZ-IT BOWL

CHASE FIELD GETS NATURAL GRASS OVERLAY FOR CHEEZ-IT BOWL

90,000 sq. ft. of West Coast Turf Bandera Bermuda Sod Put on Top of New Artificial Turf for December 27th Football Game

Phoenix, AZ……The Cheez-It Bowl is ready for the Air Force Falcons vs the Washington State Cougars on December 27th, on a new natural turfgrass field.

Just last week, West Coast Turf installed 90,000 square feet of their 1” thick overseeded Bandera Bermuda sod directly on top of Chase Field’s new artificial turf baseball field. Installation took 2 days, and a layer of polyethylene plastic sheeting was put in between the artificial surface and the natural sod. The sod is thick-cut and weighs approximately 15 lbs. per sq. ft. so that rooting will not be a factor with such a short time frame. The weight will give the sod its stability.

Chase Field’s artificial surface is one that involves concrete curbing so that using artificial turf to cover the baseball skins was not an option for a football field conversion. Sod was the obvious solution. This is not the first time West Coast Turf has been called in to place natural grass over artificial turf.  They have done the same process several times at Quest/CenturyLink Field in Seattle.  West Coast Turf has also regularly put natural grass “overlay” fields on top of other natural fields when time constraints do not allow for removal between important games.

Following the Cheez-It Bowl, the natural grass will be removed and partially donated to Cartwright Elementary School in Phoenix.

A link to photos of the installation can be found here.

West Coast Turf had been the natural grass supplier to Bank One Ballpark, Chase Field, and the Arizona Diamondbacks since the inception of the team in 1998. They have also supplied the NFL with eight Super Bowl fields from California to Florida, including Super Bowls XXVII, XXIX, XXX, XXXII, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, and 50.

West Coast Turf is a full-service sod, stolonization and hydroseeding company with 5 offices throughout California and Arizona, and headquarters in Palm Desert, CA.  West Coast Turf grows more than 30 varieties of natural grass. For more information please visit www.westcoastturf.com or www.facebook.com/westcoastturf.

Raiders Maintain the Tradition of Football with Natural Grass Field

Since November 2017, the Oakland Raiders have been hard at work building their home stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their field surface of choice is natural grass, driven by the insistence of Raiders owner Mark Davis.

“That’s the tradition of football,” says Tom Blanda, SVP of Stadium Development and Operations for the Raiders, in an episode of the Raiders video series, From the Ground Up. “You walk out on the field and you breathe in, and you smell real grass. That can’t be replicated with an artificial field.”

The Raiders have taken great care to bring this tradition to life. This year, the field maintenance crew has been testing different turf grasses on-site to determine which works best in the Nevada climate, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal interview. The 9,500-ton field will sit on a sliding field tray that will move in and out of the stadium between games so that Allegiant Stadium can accommodate UNLV games and non-football events. At 4 feet deep, the tray will hold layers of roots and sand, irrigation and drainage utilities, and electrical heaters to keep the sod healthy year-round.

The Raiders’ natural grass field highlights an important decision that athletic teams need to make for the success of their players. According to data from the NFL between 2012 and 2016, 82.4% of NFL players think that synthetic turf is more likely to contribute to injury. Researchers of the study found that noncontact injury rates to the lower body were between 27% and 103% higher on synthetic turf than natural grass. The full case study is available within our TPI resources.

In addition to safety considerations, athletic teams choose natural grass for the values of tradition and player experience, as voiced by the Raiders leaders.

Follow the Raiders stadium build in the video series From the Ground Up, which shares behind-the-scenes stories of the stadium builders, technologies and milestones. We can’t wait to see the team take the field!

The Growing Waste Problem of Synthetic Turf Fields

What happens to a synthetic turf athletic field when it’s time for replacement? You can find them sitting on vacant plots of land across the country, according to an investigation by the York Daily Record and York Sunday News publications.

“Used artificial turf is expected to produce 1 million to 4 million tons of waste in the next 10 years, and it has nowhere to go, according to solid waste industry analysts,” the journalists report.

The article discusses the difficulties of recycling or disposing of synthetic turf. The only recycling facility in the world that can fully separate the parts is in Denmark, and bringing turf to landfills is an expensive and heavy lift (literally). Due to a lack of regulation and government oversight, old turf ends up in empty lots, backyards, public spaces and private land. The crumb rubber and chemicals in turf also present potential safety and health concerns for the surrounding environment.

Kyla Bennett, science and policy director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says the best solution is to use natural grass.

This problem highlights a consequence of using a synthetic, disposable groundcover for our athletic fields. Unlike synthetic turf, natural grass is a sustainable plant with an endless lifespan.

For more information, click Read More for the full article from the York Daily Record

National Turfgrass Federation Seeks Comments from Sod Producers on Senate Appropriations

The National Turfgrass Federation (NTF), a Beltsville, MD-based non-profit group which coordinates turf / sod research within the federal government and private industry, launched an initiative earlier this year seeking congressional funds for six Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) labs nationwide.  Aimed at federal appropriations for agriculture programs in the next fiscal year (FY2020), this initiative would address growing public demands for green landscapes requiring less maintenance, as well as research for environmental stewardship, ecosystem sustainability, and genomic sequencing for cultivars that are more drought, heat, disease, and traffic tolerant.    “This research would enhance turfgrass’s quality and affordability for consumers, while reducing maintenance costs,” says NTF Executive Director Kevin Morris. “Those benefits would directly impact appearance, utility, and multiple contributions for environmental sustainability.”   NTF’s $3 million funding request for FY20 would be allocated among six ARS labs in Georgia, Arizona, Utah, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  These sites were selected based on best available resources and staff expertise for conducting this research.   “NTF views this approach as carving out a dedicated line item appropriation for turfgrass science,” Morris adds.  “Establishing a cooperative venture among several ARS labs and their respective regions could broaden the scope of benefits from scientific discovery and provide a collaborative research model that might be useful for future interests.”

In June 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives included NTF’s proposal in their FY20 Agriculture Appropriations measure.  The Senate agriculture appropriations panel did not follow suit.  Thus, NTF looks to a House / Senate conference in hopes an agreement can be reached that includes all or part of this proposal in a final funding bill.  Any expressions of support from turfgrass sod producers to senators and congressmen in those six states slated for ARS research — along with lawmakers representing Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Florida — would be very helpful.   “As with any research program, dividends often go beyond where money is initially allocated,” Morris says.

Covering approximately 60 million acres in the U.S, turfgrass is America’s most visible crop.  Statistics indicate it is the third largest crop in total value with estimates exceeding $60 billion annually.  Home and commercial landscapes comprise 65-70% of turfgrass acreage with roadsides, parks, sports fields, golf courses, cemeteries, airports, and sod / seed production comprising most of the remaining acreage.  Turf industries, which covers commercial & residential lawn care, golf course and sports field management, roadside maintenance, public parks, and product sales and services, employs approximately 1 million people in the U.S.   For more information on this ARS funding proposal, contact NTF’s Kevin Morris at kmorrisntep@gmail.com.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) Phase 3 Begins Dec 16th, 2019

As many of you know, recent changes to regulations on hours of service (HOS) and electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial vehicle operators have caused much confusion and concern among turfgrass sod haulers in the United States. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Final Rule in the Federal Register in December 2015 regarding Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Hours of Service (HOS) Supporting Documents [Federal Register: Docket No. FMCSA-2010-0167]. In short, it states that by December 16th, 2019 all commercial motor vehicle operators are required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) that are self-certified and registered with the FMCSA.

This new mandate incorporates the traditional HOS exemptions for hauling agricultural commodities within 150 air-miles of an owner’s farm or other source, but it has also raised the question among state and federal regulators and enforcement officers as to what exactly constitutes an agricultural commodity.

TPI has been working on this issue since Phase 2 of the new ELD mandate took effect in 2017 and is currently working three separate avenues of relief that could potentially provide a resolution. These include working directly with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on bills S.2025 and H.R. 1673. For more information on the upcoming ELD Phase 3 mandate and how TPI is working on behalf of sod producers, check out the link below and the November/December issue of Turf News magazine.

2019 Georgia Sod Producers Field Day, Nov 5-6 in Fort Valley, GA

2019 Georgia Sod Producers Field Day

Tuesday, November 5

Super-Sod Turf Farm 158 Sod Farm Rd, Fort Valley, GA 31030

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm – Evening reception for attendees and exhibitors

Wednesday, November 6

Fort Valley State Agricultural Technology Conference Center 46 Camp John Hope Rd, Fort Valley, GA 31030)

Agenda

8:00 am – 10:30 am Fort Valley State Agricultural Technology Conference Center

Green industry and legislative updates:

  • Casey Reynolds, Turfgrass Producers International – Update on National Trends in Sod Production
  • Snellings Walters Insurance Agency – What you need to know to make sure you are covered.
  • Bryan Tolar, Tolar Capitol Partners – Legislative updates for our industry
  • Growers’ Roundtable – What are the most important issues that are coming?

11:00 am – 3:00 pmSuper-Sod Turf Farm, Fort Valley, GA

Super-Sod Turf Farm 158 Sod Farm Rd, Fort Valley, GA 31030

  • Trade show, equipment demonstrations & sod harvester drag race
  • Lunch by Huckleberry’s BBQ

ETP Farm Tours in Oslo, Norway from September 12-13 2019

By ETP office

On 12-13th September ETP organized its 3rd ETP Farm Tour in Oslo, Norway, with past 2 Farm Tour held in UK (2015) and Italy (2016). Taking advantage of a mild end of summer weather, 96 sod farmers and industry delegates from 20 European (and non-European) countries joined this event, which was a first of its kind for Norway.

The perfect organisation of this Farm Tour was the work of Johnny Trandem, a former Board member of ETP, and his Family and Company Østfold Gress AS.

In an intense 2-day program, the participants saw and learned how turf is grown in Norway. There was also time to interact and network with each other, and enjoy the atmosphere of stunningly beautiful Norway.

The centre of the event was the Hotel Ullevaal Panorama, in Oslo (NO), next to the Ullevaal Stadion, home ground of the Norway national football team, and the site of the Norwegian Cup Final. As participants gathered and registered for the event, they could enjoy a welcome drink & food in the Stadium’s meeting room. A first opportunity to catch up and network with friends and colleagues.

The welcome was followed by the ETP General Assembly (where balance 2018 and budget 2019 were approved) and by the seminar session, with presentations from the invited Speakers Martin Bocksch (Deutscher Rollrasen Verband e.V.), Filippo Lulli (Turf Europe Srl), Morten Eirik Engelsjord (Floratine Norge) and John Riiber (Head Greenkeeper of the Oslo Golf Club).

Albrecht Knigge, ETP President, also announced the 2020 Turf Expo, which will be held on September 10th – 11th 2020 at Pattensen, Germany.

After the visit of the Stadium pitch, the participants enjoyed a pleasant dinner and evening all together.

The next day was dedicated to the technical visits of the ETP Farm Tour. The first stop was at the sod farm Bærum Ferdigplen, a company with more than 20 years of experience that supply sod throughout southern Norway. Second stop was at the Oslo Golf Club, the oldest in Norway with a kind and complete report talk of the Greenkeeper. Before the last visit, the delegates stopped and had lunch at the Holmenkollen area, the world’s biggest ski arena, were they could go on top and looked around the whole Oslo area with a nice September weather.

ETP Sponsors Barenbrug, Campey, DLF, TPI and Vanmac offered a 5 minutes presentation to the delegates in the Østfold Gress’s hangar, elegantly organized to host the participants.

The Farm Tour was closed by an exquisite welcome and a pleasant outdoor visit in the Østfold Gress facilities, after which the participants were left to chill out and relax in Johnny’s wonderful farmyard, with drinks and coffee while caterers were preparing for the evening’s barbecue dinner.

ETP wishes to thank everyone who attended the Farm Tour and the local organizers (Johnny Trandem and his Family and Company Østfold Gress AS) for making this a most entertaining and informative event. We hope to see you in September 2020 for ETP’s 3rd Turf Show in Germany.

See you then !!