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Farmers Tiled Local Football Field
“It can rain today, and they can play football tomorrow,” says John Arens, thanks to a shallow drainage system installed by volunteers on the Fowler, Mich., high school football field.
The field’s heavy clay soil had become waterlogged to the point where it felt like you were “walking on a waterbed,” he says.
Recognizing that “it’s just grass farming,” Arens contacted experts at Michigan State University’s Turfgrass Information Center. MSU’s Dr. Trey Rogers heads the NFL’s Superbowl turf team and also works on turf for Major League Baseball fields.
Instead of paying $65,000 to have the work done by a landscaping company, Fowler School supporters - farmers, rural business owners, and others - volunteered this summer and completed the work for about $5,000, with about half the cost going toward grass seed.
With a trencher rented for one day, Arens’ dad, Al Arens, dug about 5,500 ft. of trenches – 12 in. deep, 6 in. wide and every 12 ft. Arens mapped out the trenches at angles from the center to take advantage of the field’s crown and natural slope for drainage.
After placing 3-in. knife-slit tile in the trenches and tying it into the perimeter tile, a gravity wagon was driven next to the trenches to add about 9 in. of Birds Eye pea gravel. That was topped with a couple of inches of topsoil.
After prepping the area, Arens seeded the whole field with a 50/50 rye/Bluegrass mix before July 4. He fertilized, aerated, and irrigated through the summer, and the tile lines were barely visible when football players started practice in August. As of October, there were no drenching rains to fully test it, but the grass looked great, and the field surface was in excellent shape for playing football.
Arens credits the voluntary teamwork of rural folks for the success of the project.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Arens, Fowler, Mich. (ph 989-640-9925; j9arens@gmail.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6