Category Archives: TPI Members

USDA Under Secretary Discusses Covid Impacts on Farms

Bill Northey, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation visited TPI member Linda Bradley’s farm in Hendersonville, NC on October 20th, 2020. He was there to meet with sod, blackberry, and Christmas tree farmers to discuss the impacts of Covid-19 on farms and marketing channels. TPI was on-hand to to share with the Under Secretary many of the experiences that have been relayed by TPI members with regard to how Covid-19 has impacted their operations. On September 18th, the USDA announced an additional $14B in federal aid for farmers impacted by Covid-19, but as of the date of this event, sod farmers have been ineligible to apply for relief funds. TPI has been working directly with the USDA Farm Service Agency to get included in recent federal relief programs administered through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP2).

Also in attendance were state and county representatives form the NC offices of the USDA Farm Service Agency as well as the Executive Director from the NC Christmas Tree Growers Association and representatives from the NC blackberry industry.

Prior to leading the Farm Programs and Conservation Mission Area overseeing the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Risk Management Agency and the Farm Service Agency, Mr. Northey served as the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture from 2006 to 2018. A fourth-generation farmer, Mr. Northey served as a commissioner of the Dickinson County Soil and Water Conservation District, and president and chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. He was also president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture from September 2011 through September 2012, while serving as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

Mr. Northey has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business from Iowa State University and an MBA from Southwest Minnesota State University.

TPI Response to NFLPA Request for Grassing All NFL Fields

October 6th, 2020

ATTN: JC Tretter, NFLPA President

NFL Players Association

1133 20th St NW

Washington, DC 20036

CC: Team Owners, University and High School Athletic Directors, Sports Field Managers, Coaches, Athletes, Parents

SUBJECT: TPI Statement on NFLPA’s Statement on Field Safety

Dear President Tretter,

We commend you for your recent NFLPA President’s statement on September 30th, 2020 titled “Only Natural Grass Can Level the NFL’s Playing Field”. We too have been closely following recent research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2019 which demonstrates the increased rate of lower body injuries to NFL and NCAA athletes when playing on artificial turf. While we recognize the need for multi-purpose venues in some scenarios, it is important to challenge team owners, university athletic directors, and others with one fundamental question. Do we want our athletes playing in a concert venue, or do we want to host concerts and other events in an athletic venue? If the answer is the latter, then there is little doubt that natural grass is the safest proven choice.

Our U.S and International sod-producing members meet this demand daily by producing farm-fresh natural grass for professional, university, and amateur sports venues worldwide. They have proven time and again that they can rise to the challenge in grassing indoor and outdoor stadiums for NFL and NCAA football games, professional soccer matches, special events and more. Advancements in grass varieties, harvesting techniques, planting methods, shipping, and equipment allow natural grass sod producers to provide the safest possible playing surface often in as little as a few days. After speaking with several of our members who produce natural grass sod for NFL and collegiate stadiums, they assure me that with proper planning and communication that they could provide natural grass fields for all NFL games.

On behalf of TPI’s staff and Board of Directors, we welcome this prioritization on player safety, and we encourage others to follow your lead. We write today to re-assure athletes, owners, athletic directors, coaches, and sports field managers everywhere that our network of professional, knowledgeable, and resourceful natural grass sod producers are prepared and ready to meet this demand head-on.

Sincerely,

Casey Reynolds, PhD

Executive Director, Turfgrass Producers International

To read the full statement from NFLPA President Tretter as well as to view TPI Resources on recent American Journal of Sports Medicine research on field safety click the links below.

TPI 2021 Conference Plans for Covid-19 Impacts

The TPI staff and board of directors are currently working to address the potential impacts of Covid-19 on TPI’s 2021 International Education Conference and Field Day just outside of Austin, TX from February 22-25, 2021. We have been in contact with the Hyatt Lost Pines, TPI’s host hotel in Lost Pines, Texas, to develop plans for various scenarios around Covid-19. The current travel restrictions, social distancing guidelines, limits on large gatherings, etc. are impacting meetings all over the world and TPI’s is no different.

We’d love to hear from our members on how they feel about attending the TPI 2021 International Education Conference and Field Day next winter. We know a lot can change between now and then, but ask that you please take a moment to fill out the brief 2 question survey below so we can plan accordingly. As always, please feel free to call the TPI office with questions or comments.

TPI Releases Weed, Insect, & Disease Control For Turfgrass Producers

TPI members will see a brand new resource hitting their mailboxes soon. The 2020 TPI Weed, Insect, and Disease Control for Turfgrass Producers is a newly finished book that was mailed to TPI members on June 4th. The first edition contains over 110 pages of information on herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides registered for use in turfgrass production in over 30 countries. This book was authored by turfgrass faculty members at four universities and colleges in the United States and Canada and includes information relevant for use in Australia, Canada, the European Union, and the United States. It is FREE to TPI members with additional copies available for purchase for $25 each or 5 for $100.

Information included in this book includes:

  • Product selection, rates, application timing, etc.
  • Mode of Action resistance management
  • U.S. and international use of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and plant growth regulators
  • Sprayer calibration and interpreting product labels
  • Photos of common insects and diseases in turfgrass production
  • And more…

Interested in receiving this FREE book and other TPI member benefits? Click here to learn more! https://www.turfgrasssod.org/join-tpi/

TPI-1

NFL Field Managers Symposium Hosts Sod Producers

The 2020 NFL Field Managers Symposium invited eight sod farms who regularly produce sod for NFL teams in-season to participate in a round-table discussion. It was a two-hour, interactive session, teaming the sod producers with 125 field managers and staffers. Three members of the NFL Team Operations Department also attended.

With input from field managers as well as the sod producers, they covered a broad range of topics, including sod farm certification, on-field events, growing scheduling, harvesting and installation timing, transportation, scheduling and the most important factor, communication. While each of the sod producers has developed their own proprietary product, and those products differ in the grass species and cultivars, and vary in production methods from grown on plastic to grown in the field, they all face similar issues and challenges—and have the same objective—a safe, game-ready field that meets NFL expectations.

Tony Leonard, Director of Grounds for the Philadelphia Eagles says that in-season sodding impacts nearly all the NFL field managers. Leonard says, “Even the synthetic turf field managers have done it at some point if they have hosted international soccer in their stadium. Installing ready-to-play natural grass over synthetic turf has its own set of challenges with keeping newly laid natural grass sod alive indoors.”

There is no margin for error with the NFL field. As Leonard said, “Because of our partnership with the sod grower, we trust them to provide us with a safe field in excellent condition to play an NFL game.”

The eight sod farms and their attending representative were: James Betts for Tuckahoe Turf Farms – New Jersey; Chad Price for Carolina Green Corp. – North Carolina; Jonathan Holland for Precision Turf, LLC – Georgia; Donald Thomas for Quality Sod – Florida; Jimmy Fox for Evergreen Turf – Arizona; Joe Wilkins for Green Valley Turf Co. – Colorado; Greg Dunn for West Coast Turf – California; and Marty Schaafsma for Schaafsma Sod Farm – Illinois.

For more information on this story, check out the current issue of Turf News. To join TPI and receive a free Turf News subscription please visit https://www.turfgrasssod.org/join-tpi/

NFL Groundskeeper Tony Leonard
Tony Leonard, Director of Grounds for the Philadelphia Eagles

Sod Checkoff Initiative Launches New Website

sod industry checkoff

Members of the U.S sod production industry have asked Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) to investigate the potential industry-wide interest and impacts of a potential sod industry checkoff. Over the next 12-18 months, TPI will host online webinars to seek input from producers and to share information on what a potential checkoff could look like for the sod industry. The first webinar is to be held on Tuesday, May 19th from 11am to 1pm EDT.

This is the first official meeting to discuss the potential of a sod checkoff program and now is the first of many opportunities to provide input and get involved. Any sod industry checkoff would be designed, implemented and governed by sod producers, for sod producers and all U.S. sod producers will have a chance to provide input on establishing an industry-wide checkoff.

Please go to http://sodcheckoff.org to learn more, submit questions, and to sign up for email alerts about upcoming webinars and other important information.

 

CHASE FIELD GETS NATURAL GRASS FOR CHEEZ-IT BOWL

college football

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.

Breakfast on the Farm with Jasperson Sod Farm

TPI member and past Board of Trustee Randy Jasperson of Jasperson Sod Farm hosted “Breakfast on the Farm” on June 22nd, 2019. This annual event is held at various locations  in Wisconsin each year and is designed to educate the public on the value and presence of Wisconsin agriculture. Members of the Wisconsin farming community in Union Grove, WI put on a real show for the public with events including petting zoos, local honey, antique tractors, and even live music, all while eating breakfast. There was also a sod harvesting demonstration which as always really draws in a crowd.

In addition to all of the fun, TPI was there to educate people on the value of natural grass sod and answer any questions on how it’s grown, harvested, and delivered to market. There was also a little more serious discussion with Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) on H.R. 1673, the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act of 2019. Randy Jasperson and I visited with him to discuss the importance of this bill to sod producers in getting their product to market. H.R. 1673 currently has bipartisan support from 23 legislators as well as a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

Check out some of the pictures below as well as a story from Journal Times. Thanks to Randy Jasperson and his team for hosting this fantastic event!