In big news for the future of synthetic turf sports surfaces in particular as well as the synthetic grass industry in general, a research partnership has been announced between synthetic turf leader FieldTurf and Penn State University. The result of this partnership is expected to be a state of the art facility that will be dedicated to sports surface research. All types of sports surfaces are going to be covered by the facility although 80% of the research effort will be put into synthetic and natural turf systems.

The research facility will be known as the Center for Sports Surface Research and it will be managed by the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. It has been 10 months in the making and the agreement with FieldTurf, who is assisting in the Center’s funding, will be a 5 year agreement.

Associate professor of soil science and pioneer in sports-surface research Andrew McNitt will be heading the research center. According to McNitt work will begin soon, “We hope to break ground relatively quickly,” said McNitt. “We hope to have the first group of plots installed yet this fall.”

Chief executive officer of FieldTurf Joe Fields described some of the benefits that they will be hoping to gain from the partnership, “Our partnership with Penn State brings the global synthetic turf leader together with the global research leader in all types of turf. The original inspiration for FieldTurf was to provide a surface that would enable athletes to attain maximum performance while minimizing injuries, and we believe that this partnership will help ensure that we continue to lead our industry in developing surfaces that deliver unequalled performance and safety to the athletes that we serve.”

The belief is that by combining a wide variety sources from of academic areas of expertise such kinesiology (human movement), soil science, toxicology, field maintenance professionals, etc it will produce the opportunity to accelerate the development of technology and safety in the synthetic grass industry.

The significance of the partnership is the signal from FieldTurf that it is serious about being involved in the development of synthetic grass and sports surfaces that are the best and most advanced surfaces possible. Both the performance of the turf as well as safety, two continuing big issues in the industry, will be closely studied as part of the program.

Importantly, the facility will allow for quantifiable, reproducible data about the performance of various sports surfaces to be produced and closely studied.