Student turf project

Jason Butler, left, presents IFA’s Carson Rippstein, and students Tracy Butcher and Rayanna Boyter with gifts for helping improve the Richfield High School football field along with Brent Gubler, principal, Friday night, Sept. 21.

While the homecoming game didn’t turn out the way Richfield High School would have liked, at least the field looked good.

The field has been part of an ongoing project undertaken by a pair of RHS agriscience students — Rayanna Boyter and Tracy Butcher. Butcher is the president of the Richfield Future Farmers of America club, while Boyter is the vice president.

“I saw a need for the field to be improved,” said Jason Butler, RHS FFA advisor. He said working with the football coach, the school district and the RHS administration, he received permission to allow students Boyter and Butcher to oversee and implement the management of RHS’s stadium field.

“They even changed the watering schedule to nighttime watering,” Butler said. “These students oversaw taking soil samples to evaluate the original needs of the soil before worrying about the condition of the plants.”

The students also moved up the fertilizing schedule for the field, as they started applications in February.

Also enlisted to help in the project was Jason Bybee, the manager of the Richfield IFA store.

“We started the project with the soil sample, and it showed they needed a whole lot of fertilizer,” Bybee said. The IFA store donated its four-step lawn care product to the project.

“Our program is formulated for intermountain soils,” Bybee said.

The goal of the project was to see if there was a financial benefit for the school district to change how it manages its turf, Butler said.

“How the field looks reflects on the school and the community,” Butler said.

In the first year of the project turf root depths had an average depth of 1.5 inches. After a year of treatment, the field had established an average root depth of between 2.75 inches to 3.25 inches, depending on the placement in the field. The deeper roots mean a more resilient, greener turf that’s better able to withstand incursion of weeds, Butler said.

“We were seeing large differences in just the first year of our experiment,” Boyter said. “I couldn’t believe the rebound time frame with the turf either. The turf that was treated had started re-growing three weeks earlier than the untreated and came back in much fuller.”

The project wasn’t just about aesthetics.

“We were finding some science reports stating that poor turf conditions could actually lead to more injuries as well,” Butcher said. “I talked with Mr. Butler and figured if we could make our football field look better and improve our community image and decrease possible injuries this was a win for everyone involved.”

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