Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. State University-Developed Sod Provides High Traffic Tolerance, Strength for NFL, College Football Fields

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. State University-Developed Sod Provides High Traffic Tolerance, Strength for NFL, College Football Fields

Article excerpt

A football season full of long passes and entrenched defenses will prove out Oklahoma State University professor Dennis Martin's research.

He's interested in the NFL's Washington Redskins home games at FedEx Field in Maryland, for example. Not the team so much, but the 6,500 square yards of Latitude 36 variety Bermuda grass trampled for the first time.

"I'm more of a casual fan now. After high school, I got so involved in work and school and research that I lost much of my interest," he said. "But I'll be watching the games closely and following the fans' blogs for their opinions."

Latitude 36 is one of Martin's babies, developed in OSU's horticulture sciences program and licensed for commercial development. Martin is an OSU Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist and one of the five OSU researchers credited with developing Latitude 36.

Latitude 36 sod was installed at FedEx Field in June, as well as at the team's summer practice facility in Richmond, Va., and at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., for training consistency. The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens also installed the new variety on its practice fields, as has the University of Virginia's Scott Stadium and University of Missouri's Simmons Field.

The new grass surface was badly needed, according to sports fans who winced as Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III went down in January with torn ligaments in his knee. They blamed an unreliable Tif Sport variety that allowed too much loose dirt to build up between plays. Martin said everyone should be happier with Latitude 36's characteristics.

Sales of Latitude 36 began shortly after its commercial release in 2010. Nine U.S. companies are licensed to produce the grass through South Carolina-based Sod Solutions, said Robert Brummett at the school's Technology Development Center. Brummett said financial details of the contract were not immediately available Thursday. The school has also filed for patent protection for the Latitude 36, he said. …

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