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ISU Turf Field Day Recap

July 29, 2016

The 2016 ISU Turf Field Day is in the books, and attendees enjoyed perfect weather, informative talks, and great food. Speakers covered topics including: pollinators, athletic field safety, irrigation audits, putting green organic matter management, how to prune trees on a golf course, weed control for ground ivy, just to name a few topics. The group also participated in the popular and informative weed, disease, and insect walk, and finished with lunch and a trade show with exhibitors. Exhibitors provided demonstrations and answered questions after lunch. We look forward to a bigger field day next year with many new projects being underway!
Field day attendees learning about NTEP results from Dr. Christians

Graduate student Isaac Mertz discusses control methods for Ground Ivy




Jack Trice Preparations

September 2, 2016

Jack Trice is ready for the first game of the season, but getting to that point takes some time and hard work. I recently visited with Tim Van Loo Manager of Athletic Turf and Grounds for Iowa State University on what it takes to get Jack Trice ready. This year marks the 20th season since natural grass returned to Jack Trice Stadium. While much of the work is done during the summer, all of the painting is done just a day or two before the game. The grounds crew will mow the football field four times the week of the game, and they will always mow the same direction to make the light and dark stripes of the Kentucky bluegrass stand out. After a final mowing on Friday, the painting began.
Jack Trice Stadium before this week's painting.
This year the field was painted last week for the Victory Day, so some of the logos are still barely visible.

Three colors are used on the playing surface at Jack Trice Stadium: white, cardinal and gold.  The white is applied first with the white lines of the field painted first then the numbers and hash marks.
Hash marks being painted on the football field at Jack Trice Stadium
Care must be taken to not have paint drip when moving stencils.

Then the logos are painted and the end zones, sometimes the crew is large enough to paint several area's at once.Tim is assisted by 8 Iowa State Horticulture students focusing on turfgrass management and one Graduate Student in Horticulture with a focus on turfgrass management.
ISU Horticulture students studying turfgrass management help paint the football field.
ISU Horticulture students studying turfgrass management help paint the football field.

The center logo on the field spans from one 42 yardline to the other 42 yardline.

The red is painted first in the logos then the yellow.
ISU Horticulture Turfgrass Graduate Student Colton Metzger paints the midfield logo. 

It will take this crew 55 man hours to mix the paint, paint the field, and clean up the painters.  They will use 50 gallons of white paint, 40 gallons of gold, and 40 gallons of cardinal paint. On game day the crew will arrive 6 hours ahead of kickoff to mow the field, put out sideline tarps, and help with any other project that may need to be done in the stadium.
Number stencils are placed every 10 yards and painted white.
Tim Van Loo, Manager of Athletic Turf and Grounds for ISU, painting numbers for tomorrow's first game of the year.

Finishing touches on the numbers used on Jack Trice Stadium.

On a typical game day Tim estimates that around 600 to 700 people are on the field. After the game the crew will take screwdrivers and lift divots on the playing surface, similar to how a ball mark is fixed on a putting green, and the field will have the debris blown off of it. This process takes about two hours, allowing the crew to leave after Saturday's game around midnight.  

ISU Horticulture students focusing on turfgrass management help care for Jack Trice Stadium.
ISU Horticulture Students learn turfgrass management skills while helping take care of Jack Trice Stadium.


Go Cyclones!!




Iowa State Featured in February SportsTurf Magazine

February 1, 2017

The February issue of SportsTurf Magazine features an interview with the current Sports Turf Managers Association President and Iowa State Athletic Field Manager Tim Van Loo as well as an article explaining micronutrients function, deficiencies, and healthy levels in turfgrass written by Dr. Nick Christians and myself. You can the February issue here:


Iowa State at STMA

February 6, 2017

The recent Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL was a great opportunity to learn, network, and see the new products being offered to athletic field industry. Iowa State was very visible throughout the week. The incoming president is Iowa State Athletic Field Manager, Mr. Tim Van Loo, who took over from outgoing president, and an Iowa State alumnus Mr. Jeff Salmond.

Iowa State Athletic Field Manager and STMA President, Tim Van Loo

On the educational side, Dr. Nick Christians gave a presentation on Micronutrients for athletic fields.

Dr. Nick Christians presenting on Micronutrients.
Dr. Nick Christians presenting on Micronutrients.

Students from Iowa State University recently competed in the Sports Turf Managers Association Student Challenge at the Annual STMA Meeting in Orlando at the end of January. This year's exam focused on turfgrass, weed, and insect identification, irrigation component identification, equipment troubleshooting, and an essay question. The teams finished second and tenth respectively in the four-year division. 

Students and advisors representing Iowa State at the Sports Turf Managers Association Meeting
Pictured above are the students that took part in the competition at the STMA Annual Meeting with advisors Dr. Nick Christians and Dr. Adam Thoms.

In addition to the competition, scholarships were awarded to the top sports turf students.

Mitch Countryman receiving a SAFE scholarship.
Mitchell Countryman of Iowa State received a SAFE Scholarship at the meeting.


This was a very good event for Iowa State to be a part of.



Iowa Turfgrass Field and Demo Day

August 24, 2017

The annual Iowa Turfgrass Field and Demo Day will be Sept. 12, 2017 at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station 55519 170 St. Ames, IA 50010. Registration starts at 8:00 am with coffee and donuts. Education will begin at 9:00 a.m. with three area's of focus: Golf Course, Sports Turf, and Lawn Care. Attendee's will be free to travel between area's of focus. The event will showcase the newest cultivars of turfgrass and how they perform in Iowa, cultivation demonstrations, how to recover a putting green from the summer, new aerification devices, a session on what's bugging your lawn, how to prune a tree, a weed identification tour, a comparison of lawn fertility products, and ask the expert time slots. Also for those looking for Pesticide Applicators Certification and Education that is available for Categories 3-O, 3-T, and 3-OT. A lunch will be provided with registration. After lunch demonstrations of various turf equipment will take place, so feel free to check out the newest in turfgrass equipment. To register go to:  and register. We hope to see all of you on September 12! 


Bentgrass recovery from the summer will be on display at the Field Day.
Come see various methods of recovery from Pythium damage.


New aerificaiton methods will be on display.
New methods of battling compaction will be on display at Field Day.


Learn about turfgrass variety differences in Iowa.
Check out differences in turfgrass performance.


2017 Turfgrass Field Day

September 22, 2017

The 2017 Iowa State Turfgrass Field Day in partnership with the Iowa Turfgrass Institute was held on September 12, 2017. This year’s field day was moved to September to better display the research results from the traditional July date. Attendance increased greatly with 225 registered attendees, up from around 80 last year. This year’s event also included a return of the turfgrass equipment and management demonstrations, with 21 companies taking part in the demonstrations.

The field day started with three hours of education in three separate areas of focus: golf course management, sports turf management, and lawn care. Each area of focus had research projects currently underway at the Horticulture Research Station, some of the trials discussed were: turfgrass variety trials, amino acid effects on creeping bentgrass putting greens, putting green rootzone recycling trials, new products for athletic field paint, fertility and seed blends performance for lawn care professionals, improving drainage on your course or athletic field, and comparing aerification methods for optimizing athletic field safety and performance. The event also had Iowa Pesticide Applicator Training, and a demonstration on how to treat for European Ash Borer.

The last hour of education included a turfgrass pest walk coving everything from turfgrass weeds, diseases and insects. Lunch was from Hickory Park, and demonstrations of equipment were from 1 to 3 pm. Look on the Iowa State Horticulture Homepage and Turfgrass Blog for the date of next year’s field day. We hope to see many of you in 2018!

Dr. Nick Christians discusses turfgrass weeds at the 2017 Iowa State Turfgrass Field Day.
Dr. Nick Christians discusses turfgrass weeds at the 2017 Iowa State Turfgrass Field Day.


Mr. Ben Pease, Turfgrass Research Associate, discusses sports turf research projects to attendees of the 2017 Field Day.
Mr. Ben Pease, Turfgrass Research Associate, discusses sports turf research projects to attendees of the 2017 Field Day.

Dr. Adam Thoms presents the performance of various turfgrass and fertility treatments to the lawn care professionals in attendan
Dr. Adam Thoms presents the performance of various turfgrass and fertility treatments to the lawn care professionals in attendance.

Not all was turfgrass at the recent turfgrass field day; Jay Goughnour measures an ash tree to demonstrate how to treat for E.A.
Not all was turfgrass at the recent turfgrass field day; Jay Goughnour measures an ash tree to demonstrate how to treat for E.A.B.


Fall Armyworm

August 31, 2021

The past two months I have been watching various social media stories about how bad fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) pressure is in the states to the south of Iowa. There has been extensive damage in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas, and Missouri to name a few. As time has progressed the damage has moved north into Ohio, Indiana, and Maryland. The fall armyworm caterpillar will devour turfgrass by eating foliage down to the crown. The crown is then left exposed to desicate in warm temperatures. Golf course fairways, athletic fields and home lawns have all been damaged by fall armyworms in these states. On Monday I got the first picutres of egg masses of fall armyworms in Iowa.

We don't regularly see fall armyworms in Iowa, and they arrive with storms and winds from the southern U.S. The southeastern part of the U.S. has seen prolonged damage from multiple genrations of fall armyworms. Storms the past week or so have brought these pests to Iowa. The female moths have seemed to lay the eggs in places such as on the flag and flag stick of a golf course, trash cans, golf carts, and sides of houses. This is not normal. The eggs can hatch in a few days. Many of the young caterpilars will not make it to the turfgrass and will die. If you see the egg masses you can scrape them off with soapy water. Scout for damage and feeding once the eggs have hatched. Blanket applicaitons of insecticide are not recommended, and scouting for damage is best.  

As of writting this blog I have yet to see any of the adults, however there have been some reports of damage from other ISU Extension Specialist. For more information check out this article in Horticulture and Home Pest News.



Adam W Thoms

Picture of Adam Thoms
Assistant Professor
Area of Expertise: 
turfgrass education, sports turf management