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Iowa State one of first to grow its own turfgrass football field

June 9, 2022

Iowa State University (ISU) began harvesting and installing its own homegrown turfgrass in early May 2022. According to the university, it is one of the first universities to grow its own sod for its football field within a year.

This was the culmination of a year-long collaborative project between the Department of Horticulture, Iowa State Athletics Department, ISU Horticulture Research Station and Iowa Sports Turf.

Turfgrass was last replaced at the stadium in 2008, which exceeds the average lifespan of 7-8 years for synthetic turf.

“You can go anywhere to buy sod, but I think if you can tailor it to the way you want to do it and the way you want to grow it, you’ll have a really good product,” Josh Tvrdik, director of turf and grounds for the Iowa State Athletics Department, said.

Preparations to begin growing sod on six acres of land at the ISU Horticulture Research Station began in early spring 2021. Dump trucks brought in approximately 120 loads of specially sized sand to create a four-inch layer of sand to match the sand base at the stadium. Iowa Sports Turf then laser graded the sand.

“We build a lot of different athletic fields, but this one is the first of its kind for us, as well as the university,” Eric Van Ginkel, construction operations manager of Iowa Sports Turf, said. “We knew it would be a challenge, but we were willing to take part in it.”

The new turfgrass offers learning and research opportunity for students, faculty and staff. ISU will also grow sod to replace its synthetic soccer field in 2023.

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