As NFL teams enter training camp, over at the practice fields across the street from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, one thing is for sure. While the player roster shifts, Head Groundskeeper Darian Daily enters his 12th season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The synthetic turf stadium sits practically unused during training camp. With 90 guys working out at a time, it just makes more sense to spread them out over the three bermudagrass practice fields. As the team builds towards opening day kickoff, the fields will be in use every day, as often as six days a week. Ninety guys, who weigh in excess 200-plus lbs., thrashing it out daily takes its toll on natural turf. But Daily's not worried about his fields holding up to the NFL's level of punishment.
Three years ago, Daily and his crew renovated one of the practice fields, peeling off the bluegrass surface to replace it with bermudagrass. Five inches of organic material was stripped out during the renovation and replaced with new sand and soil, Daily says. Just prior to putting down the new turf, he added an application of granular Z.one VitaSmart to the soil. A natural soil amendment from Performance Nutrition containing humic acid, zeolite and beneficial microbes, Daily laser graded the field and, using a broadcast spreader, applied the Z.one VitaSmart.
The application created noticeable results in water retention and field playability - so much so, Daily says, that he decided to use the Z.one VitaSmart over the next two years on the other two practice fields. Following major aerification and verticutting to open up the soil profile, Daily topdressed the fields with Z.one VitaSmart, working it into the aerification holes. When one of the fields was resodded, Daily also incorporated an application of the Z.one VitaSmart prior to laying down the new sod.
"The root seems to hold onto the particle and forms a more solid surface, especially when it's a predominantly sand soil profile," says Daily, who calls himself "a soil guy." He says his crew, players and coaches have noticed that "since we've been using it, our fields seem to hold together better. Our turf seems to be a little more vibrant and a little more tough."
Daily's also noticed an increase in water holding capacity that has equated into a savings on irrigation costs. Instead of irrigating the fields every two to three days, he's now irrigating every three to four days. "We are getting an extra day of not watering out of it," Daily says. "With us having to buy the water, that can be a fairly hefty bill. For the most part, we can get an extra day out of it before we start seeing wilt characteristics."
Since incorporating Z.one VitaSmart into his maintenance program, Daily says, "the fields have been improving over the last three years."
For more information on Z.one VitaSmart, visit: www.pnfertilizers.com/z-one-vitasmart and on Twitter @PerformanceFert