Dr. Adam Thoms and his staff in the Department of Horticulture Grow Sod for Jack Trice Stadium

In the fall of 2019 the decision was made to replace the playing surface at Jack Trice Stadium. The field had been in place since 2008, and was needing to be regraded. The playing surface is grown on a sand-based root zone that needs a sand-based sod to avoid a drainage issue. The field manager at the time, Tim Van Loo had received a couple of quotes for sod and was wanting to make sure the sod matched the sand in the playing surface. After a short discussion, it was decided that the Department of Horticulture would grow the new playing surface and offer the opportunity to teach future turfgrass managers how to grow sod.

The project was delayed in 2020 due to concerns over the impact of COVID on the budget, but was started in March of 2021. Both the playing surface at Jack Trice and the football practice fields were set to be replaced as part of this project. Two three-acre corn fields at the Horticulture Research Station were selected to be the future sod fields. In late March of 2021, Iowa Sports Turf tilled the stalks into the soil and then compacted it as a base. Then the entire six-acres were covered with 120 dump trucks worth of sand to a three-inch depth that matches that at Jack Trice Stadium. An irrigation system was installed to aid in establishment. The site was seeded on April 30th 2021 with a 100% Kentucky bluegrass seed that was ‘365 SS’ by Mountain View Seed. Thomas Gould, a graduate student and research associate helped to care for the sod from seeding to harvest. Students in the Department of Horticulture Turfgrass option helped spread fertilizer and seed.

The first couple mowing’s were carried out with a walking John Deere reel mower with an 18” cut width, with Thomas and another student walk mowing all six-acres. They each walked about 14 miles each time they mowed. As the sod matured the grass was then mowed with a John Deer Triplex reel mower at 1.25”. Students helped removed weeds, learned about the irrigation system and assisted in mowing the sod.

The sod was harvested on May 3, 2022 and installed that same day with help from Stensland Sod.  Josh Tvrdik, the manager of the playing surfaces at Iowa State and a Department of Horticulture graduate will manage the field now that it is in place for the 2022 playing season.

Horticulture Farm to Jack Trice Stadium – Iowa State University Athletics (