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Hydro-Mulch Helps Grass
Stand Tall


It wasn’t exactly the field of dreams, but it did have potential. When local Lubbock, Texas, school Christ the King (CTK) Cathedral School and Catholic Church decided to expand their class offerings to include 9th through 12th grades and start a high school football team, their attention soon turned to the lack of a practice field.

With two-a-day workouts just around the corner, church member and former CTK student John Wanjura knew he had to volunteer his expertise as a researcher for the USDA-ARS Cotton Production & Processing Research Unit.

“Another of our researchers had been involved with the Cotton Incorporated project dealing with the creating of hydro-mulch from gin by-product, and I thought this would be a great site with which to test the product while simultaneously providing turf grass for the field,” says Wanjura.

Getting To Work

Time was not on their side. The open field was replete with native grasses, uneven surfaces and rocks. After skinning back eight inches of top soil, roots and tree stumps, an irrigation system was installed.

“We had to have a solid ground cover that could stand up to the demands of high school football and seasonal rainfall, which could lead to excessive runoff,” says Wanjura.

The group decided to use a hydraulically-applied mulch to help quickly establish a stand of grass and prevent erosion. Wanjura decided on American Green’s HydraCM Steep Slope Matrix developed by Mulch and Seed Innovations LLC, Centre, Ala., along with Cotton Incorporated and USDA.

“HydraCM is a high performance hydraulic erosion control product made with mechanically processed straw fibers, reclaimed cotton by-product and proprietary performance-enhancing tackifiers,” says Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed marketing and research at Cotton Incorporated.

On Memorial Day of 2008, the hydra-mulch mixed with Bermuda grass seed was applied. Initial concerns were created when it was realized the rate of application applied was lower than recommended, but they waited it out to see what happened. With five inches of rain over the next week, Wanjura feared the worst but after inspecting the field, no seed had floated to the soil surface and runoff was minimal.

Fruits Of Their Labor

Within two weeks, the field actually had to be mowed.

“In the past, it took five or more months to get mature vegetation, so I was really impressed with how the HydraCM promoted fast soil-to-seed contact and quick germination,” says Manjura.

In addition to the short time it took to establish the grass, the use of the hydra-mulch and Bermuda seed was much less expensive than buying and placing sod. Last fall, the school’s football team completed its season and for Manjura, it was fulfilling to know that in the largest cotton-producing state in the country, cotton played a role in helping his old high school gain its first football field.

The Cotton Board, which administers the Cotton Research and Promotion Program conducted by Cotton Incorporated, provided information for this article.

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