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Reinforcement inclusions have been advocated to alleviate wear, compaction, and unstable surfaces in sports fields, but little research on the effects of these materials has been conducted in the USA. Experiments were established on a native silt loam and a sand rootzone matrix, seeded with a Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) blend, at the Joseph Troll Turf Research Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA to determine the effects of reinforcement inclusions on wear, surface hardness, traction, ball roll, ball bounce resilience, water infiltration rate, soil bulk density, air porosity, total porosity, and root weights. Three types of reinforcement inclusions (Sportgrass, Netlon, Turfgrids) were tested along with a non-reinforced control in a three year study. The treatments were set out in a randomized complete block design with four replications in both soils. No inclusion provided less wear or greater infiltration or air-filled porosity relative to the control. Reinforcement inclusions showed significant differences, however, in surface hardness, traction, and ball roll relative to the control, although this varied with the time of year. Infiltration rates, airfilled porosity, total pore space, bulk density, hardness, traction, ball roll, and ball rebound were greater on the sand rootzone than on the silt loam. Significant correlations were present between soil bulk density, surface hardness, traction, and ball roll. Based on our study, the use of reinforcement inclusions to provide better wear tolerance for sand or native soil athletic fields is not warranted. Certain playing surface characteristics, however, may be slightly improved with the use of reinforcement inclusions. The use of sands for sports surfaces is justified based upon the improvement in playing quality characteristics and soil physical properties important to a good playing surface.


Published in International Turfgrass Society Research Journal, Vol. 10 (2005), pp.1049-1059 at