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grambling state: a 'facelift'

6-031213 SPORTS PAGE 6Story by O.K. Davis

Williams pleased with turfplaning project for practice field

Grambling - Grambling State University's football practice field recently received a "facelift."

With the playing serface accustomed to perennial use during the fall and spring, the Tigers' field had taken its fair share of wear and tear.

But now, thanks to a upgrade process called turfplaning, the field will be like new when the G-Men kick off their fall training camp ritual. 

In June of 2012, a New Roads-based company called Alternative Turfplaner leveled out and "cleansed" the playing field at Cougar Stadium on the campus of Cedar Creek High School.

Result: the turf at the Cougars' stadium was transformed from intermittent "peaks and valleys" to a smooth surface that immediately gave the facility a much improved look.

Doug Williams, the head football coach at Grambling State University, heard about the work done by Alternative Turfplaner controller Chet Johnson and his crew and started making contact.

IMG 0236"After hearing about us from the Cedar Creek project," Johnson said, "Coach Williams and Greg Wilson of football operations at Grambling were interested in having us laser turfplane the Grambling State practice field."

"Knowing the field was in pretty bad condition, they wanted a new start by turfplaning the field and an education on better turfgrass management."

Johnson evaluated the field in the fall of 2012 and built a 3-D model to best duplicate the field's actual, current slopes.

"We wanted to create a smooth slope from the middle of the field to the sidelines," Johnson said. "By laser turfplaning the field, we were able to establish a smooth center of the field and cut in a smooth surface to the sidelines at about a one percent grade."

"The field took us two full days to turfplane and a half day of cleanup work," Johnson said.

With the "laser turfplaing," irregularities in the playing surface are removed (up to two inches) from turf areas with an 84-inch turfplaner that is equipped with a proportional laser. 

"Turfplaning not only reduces cost of resurfacing to a fraction of conventional turf removal, tiling, re-grading, and re-grassing, but also greatly reduces time and need to regrow the root zone prior to using," Johnson said. "With the use of turfplaning, full recovery of turf and resumption of normal activities on a smooth and consistent surface can be accomplished in as little as three-to-six weeks."

He uses the layman's term of "restoration maintenance" to describe the process which can also be used on golf courses and soccer, baseball and softball fields.

IMG 0221"It is especially good for high schools," said Johnson, a construction management graduate from LSU who grew up in New Roads and whose father, Cary Johnson, serves as the executive manager for Alternative Turfplaner. "It's very cost efficient."

Turfplaning removes all of the excess material (thatch and soil) and returns the surface back to the original soil profile without any contamination. Normally scheduled play can resume in as little as three-to-six weeks after turfplaning, while return to normal play on a conventionally restored field can take as much as 12 months, depending on the methods of re-turfing.

"Also on the (Grambling) field was a 419 hybrid Bermuda-grass that was covered up with thatch and sand used to cover over the washouts that had occured on the field," Johnson said. "By turfplaning the field, we cut down to the washouts and where only Bermuda roots existed. Bermudagrass, in general, grows deeper roots and welcome the challenge to re-grow.

"With proper fertilizing and weed management program being started, this field will be in tip-top shape for the fall football season."

And Williams is pleased with the way the Grambling State University practice field now looks and is being readied for the start of the 2013 season.

IMG 0228"I really feel good about the condition the practice field will be in when preseason workouts begin," he said. "Having this done is also going to help bring more pride to the program and give our players, fans, and alumni something to feel really good about when we start another new season."
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