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Wear testing for community sports fields

This project examines the wear tolerance of warm-season turf grass cultivars suited for use on community sports fields. The four-year trial is being undertaken at fields played on by the Redlands Touch Association, the University of Queensland and at DEEDI’s Redlands Research Station. The results from monitored touch football and multi-use sports fields will be compared against the simulated wear site at Redlands Research Station. Management factors, including field usage (wear tolerance and recovery) and the frequency of decompaction, will be monitored with a view to providing information on cost-effective maintenance programs and cultivar choices for user-friendly community sports fields. The results will be augmented by conducting mowing cost-benefit analysis studies with the use of the growth regulator trinexapac-ethyl.


Full titleTraffic tolerance of warm-season turf grasses under community sports field conditions
DatesStart date: October 2008
End date: May 2012
Project leaderMatt Roche, 07 3286 1488
AimsTo document and assess the wear of different turf grass cultivars as they are used on community sports fields and in simulated testing.

To look at the impact of decompaction frequency on reducing ground hardness, improving safety and field usage on natural grass sports fields.

To investigate the morphology and agronomy of Cynodon spp. (green couch hybrids), Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu) and Digitaria didactyla (blue couch) turf grasses, including mowing requirement and the effect of trinexapac-ethyl (a growth regulator) application.

In a separate trial (greens quality grasses), to investigate the effect of trinexapac-ethyl (a growth regulator) application on Cynodon sp. (green couch hybrids) and Paspalum vaginatum (seashore paspalum).

To use aggregated data to develop best management practices and to highlight the financial implications of selecting one turf grass over another.

BenefitsThe project will improve decision-making on the choice of cultivars, decompaction, mowing and other management regimes for community sports fields. High wearing, lower input turf grass can save community sports clubs considerable money. This will produce more cost-effective, wear-tolerant, uniform and safe turfed playing surfaces.

Through the correct choice of wear-tolerant cultivars gains of 20% to 40% may be attained for on-field use and play. More frequent decompaction regimes have the potential to increase the availability of sports fields for play even further.

As an added benefit, the study will allow researchers to compare the damage incurred by a wear traffic simulator with that of damage from actual playing fields where the hours of wear are being formally recorded. This will benefit future wear-testing studies.

MethodologyA total of 10 warm-season turf grass cultivars are being trialled, including 7 Cynodon spp. (green couch/hybrids), 2 Digitaria didactyla (blue couch) and 1 Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu).

A total of three decompaction levels are to be adopted: no decompaction, once per year in line with many council operations and work being undertaken at six-week intervals. This work will be conducted at the two touch sites and at the simulated wear trial site.

A range of scientific testing including assessing turf grass density, hardness, automated traction, soil moisture and water infiltration started in May 2009. Wear was applied on two sites in May 2009 and on the third site in March 2010. All sites will be tested for a full two years.

Morphological and agronomic data and ash and lignin fibre tests will be correlated against the relative wear tolerance of the turf grasses being trialled.

In a separate study, a comprehensive range of best management practices in relation to the choice of turf grass, mowing, growth regulator use and frequency of decompaction, including financial considerations will be developed. These tests will be undertaken with 19 warm-season turf grass cultivars, including 14 Cynodon spp. (green couch/hybrids), 4 Digitaria didactyla (blue couch) and 1 Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu).

In a separate test, the quality of Cynodon hybrid and Paspalum vaginatum greens grasses will be evaluated after trinexapac-ethyl is applied at four different levels.

AchievementsFigures to date from the current trial (TU08018) indicate that there are considerable wear tolerance (e.g. 87%) and wear recovery differences between Cynodon, Kikuyu and Digitaria species and cultivars. As these cultivars are commonly used for sports and recreational purposes, this means that if a less suitable cultivar is chosen, a sports field could be closed up to 85% more often than is necessary, as it is unfit for play.
Project staff
Collaborating agencies
  • Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
  • Horticulture Australia Limited
  • Redland City Council
  • Redlands Touch Association
  • Oz Tuff Turf
  • Twin View Turf
  • Australian Lawn Concepts
  • University of Queensland
  • Golf Course Superintendents Association of Queensland
  • Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association
  • Sports Turf Institute
  • Golf Queensland Pty. Ltd.
  • Sports Turf Association (Queensland)
  • Sports Turf Association (NSW)
  • Syngenta
  • Turf Grass Association of Australia (Victoria)
  • Q Turf Machinery
  • Turf Force
  • Turf Solutions
  • Turf World
  • Caboolture Turf
  • Jimboomba Turf
Research locationsRedlands Showgrounds, The University of Queensland and DEEDI’s Redlands Research Station.
Contact detailsDEEDI Customer Service Centre


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