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Brock Field Named Outstanding Facility of the Year by the ASBA

The American Sports Builders Association, the organization for builders/suppliers of materials for athletic fields, announced its annual Outstanding Facilities of the Year Awards. Winning projects are chosen based on layout, design, site work, drainage, innovation,...

“1,100 lbs of Force Driven into the Turf” Sports Science

The popular ESPN program “Sports Science” chose to dive into the forces at work during a rugby match. What was discovered is a violent mix of possibilities that open the doors for serious injuries. There was no doubt that rugby is a hard-hitting, collision sport that...

EXPLORE BY CATEGORY

The Wonders of Wood
Replacement for Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market
Athletic Business Interview On BrockFILL
Sourcing + Sustainability Matter
Research Shows Wood Infill is Safer For Athletes and Artificial Fields
BrockFILL in Georgia – Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’
Why Shock Pads? 7 reasons why you should always include a shock pad in your artificial turf system
BrockFILL Durability – Why Wood is Good!
Elkhorn Area School District Turning Heads With New AstroTurf & Brock
Companies Consider Climate Change
ASU Opens Bro & Blegen Agility Field Featuring PowerBase/PRO
Plant-Based Infills Gain Traction in Turf Market – Athletic Business Feature
BrockFILL “Brings New Life” to Ed Defore Sports Complex
Hatchlings hold up Grand Opening for Brock Field – Rio Americano High School
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The Wonders of Wood

The Wonders of Wood

Wood has been part of mankind’s evolution for millennia. Thirty-one percent of the planets’ surface is covered by forests, so it’s no wonder that this amazing natural material has been used by man since the dawn of our existence. From the fires that kept us warm and cooked our food, to the log cabins that sheltered us, to the ships that crossed the oceans. After centuries, wood continues to play an important role in our lives.  

“Finding a way to make wood work as an infill for artificial turf was an elegant solution to a 25-year-old problem,” says Sawyer. “We use wood every day. To build our homes, baby toys, play sets, bowls and plates, cooking utensils, and in so many other ways.  So we knew from a human health perspective, it was a safe raw material.”    

As the artificial turf industry has searched for an alternative to the scorching hot temperatures caused by crumb rubber, wood has emerged as the most effective solution. There are several key benefits to wood as an infill: It’s organic so there is no hazardous waste at the end of the turf’s life, it’s an abundant, renewable resource that is sustainably grown and harvested in the USA. It’s incredibly durable when engineered properly, and it’s affordable since there are already large industries, such as the paper, biofuels and animal industry that use huge quantities already. In the development of BrockFILLBrock USA leveraged thsupply chain of these industries and engineered the process to make an affordable, quality wood infill. 

Wood is also excellent in the infill application due to its natural resistance to UV degradation Fences, house siding, and other outdoor uses with constant UV exposure last for decades, far longer than artificial turf will last. Wood is also a wonderful material for its malleability. Think about all the uses and the different forms it comes in. In furniture, it’s curved, colored, smoothed, tailored and strong. Wooden toys for children are preferred to plastic towards the growing health conscious population. Most parents know that Thomas the Tank Engine and wooden building blocks are safe for their kidsMusical instruments, boats, outdoor gardens where we grow our vegetable, and the list goes on and on. 

BrockFILL wood particles also have a quality that makes it ideal for artificial turf. They are hydrophilic,, meaning they like water. So during a rainfall or even condensation in humid climates, they absorb natural moisture. When the water source stops, they slowly release the water through evaporation. This keeps the field cool for days even without additional water. Since the material absorbs water, they also gain weight and stability so they don’t float like other materials such as cork. (Cork is hydrophobic meaning it repels water which is why cork is used for wine stoppers and flotation devices.) 

During snowfall and freezing temperatures, all fields freeze regardless of infill. However, because moisture is retained in BrockFILL, the thawing time for the field, generated by the heat gain in the artificial turf fibers, will most likely be longer than a field with Crumb rubber. An artificial turf field with BrockFILL will probably fall between a natural grass field and an artificial field with rubber when it comes to thawing time. However, since there is a shock pad below the turf, impact absorption will still occur. 

BrockFILL uses wood in its pure form, without coatings that can come off, or blending with other materials that would negate its sustainable benefit. But to be used as an infill, the wood needed to be chipped, dried, sorted for particle size, conditioned, de-splintered, and smoothed to meet the desired performance criteria.  But in the end, it’s just one material.  Its purity is what makes it special. 

The basic structure of wood is what makes it strong. BrockFILL achieves a specific grain orientation during processing. Without that grain orientation you end up with sawdust. The proprietary processing of BrockFILL results in an infill that is incredibly durable. A method called particle size distribution, which measures the particle sizes before and after wear testing, shows virtually not change after 8-10 years of use, and virtually the same particle sizes as brand new crumb rubber.

Most people think wood molds and rots. And that’s true if wood is in the presence of natures normal biological activity that occurs on soils. But artificial turf is a virtually sterile environment. Below BrockFILL is a layer of sand, then plastic backing of the turf, then the shock pad, then a stone base free of organics. So biological activity is eliminated. But at the end of the turf life, when BrockFILL is used as a soil amendment for natural grass, it is returned to the normal soil conditions that promote decomposition.  This is the same reasoning behind why fences last so long. They are off the ground and not subject to biological activity. Taking advantage of the lack of biology in artificial turf made wood an ideal solution. 

Pine wood is also very low on the allergen scale. Although wood pollen can create irritation during allergy season, and some people have allergies to pine nuts, neither of these components exist in BrockFILL. Even the idea of prolonged exposure to fine wood dust causing cancer, such as an employee in a lumber mill working for decades without a mask, is now debatable. But since BrockFILL is a clean, durable particle that does not contain or produce dust, these concerns do not apply. After all, children have been playing on engineered wood fiber playgrounds safely for decades. 

Wood also plays an important role in our economy. The state of GA alone is growing 50% more trees today than were grown in 1950, realizes $35 billion in economic impact and creates 144,000 jobs. This is the result of the conversion of difficult to farm land into forests of southern pine, the predominant wood used in fuel pellets, animal bedding and for the paper industry. And now BrockFILL. Yet despite the size of the artificial turf market, it is dwarfed by these other uses, so using wood as an infill does not increase the demand for trees. 

Wood has been and will continue to touch our daily lives. And now it brings its benefits to an industry that needs a solution to the scalding temperatures, disposal, and micro-plastics issues caused by crumb rubber infill. Attention to the health and safety of our athletes is a growing concern. Attention to the health of our planet is of paramount importance. Now artificial turf can take the natural evolutionary step by replacing crumb rubber with an essential component that is good for people, and good for the planet. 

Replacement for Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market

Replacement for Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market

Boulder, CO  – Brock USA, the leading manufacturer of shock pads for artificial turf fields, has released the first affordable and durable organic replacement for crumb rubber infill for artificial turf – aptly named “BrockFILL™.” Artificial turf fields have four key components: a stone or concrete base, a quality shock pad – for impact absorption and safety, the turf itself, and the infill. The infill holds the turf fibers up, provides the traction, and some cushioning for the field. Traditionally, the infill has consisted of crumb rubber (those black specks seen splashing when players cut or dive) and sand, but crumb rubber infill has been the subject of numerous investigations and news articles related to human health and safety as well as environmental concerns. For this reason, companies have tried to find alternatives. The representatives from Brock USA believe they have found the replacement.

In late 2015 Brock USA began assembling a team of researchers from universities, sports testing labs, PhD scientists, engineers, horticulturists, and human test subjects from around the world to develop a safe and cost-effective organic infill. For three years the team worked to identify, test, and validate natural infill materials that could meet a long list of objectives. One material, not only met, but exceeded the team’s expectations according to Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA.

BrockFILL™ utilizes a tried and true, safe raw material that has been used by mankind for centuries: wood. BrockFILL™ is an engineered wood particle infill that outperforms other artificial turf infills during rigorous durability, longevity, performance, abrasion, and safety testing.  BrockFILL™ provides better traction, less splash, better ball bounce, a more natural feel to an artificial turf field, and prevents the scorching hot temperatures caused by crumb rubber infill, according to a 156-page report combining all the independent research.

“Finding a way to make wood work as an infill was an elegant solution to a 25-year-old problem,” says Sawyer. “We use wood every day. To build our homes, baby toys, play sets, bowls and plates, cooking utensils, and in so many other ways.  So we knew from a human health perspective, it was a safe raw material.”

Environmentally, it’s a win-win for the industry. BrockFILL™ is sourced and made in the USA from sustainable tree farming of forests grown for the construction, paper, biofuels, and animal bedding markets. There is zero waste in the manufacturing process and no disposal hazards at the end of the artificial turf field’s life. Wood is even suggested by the Consumer Products Safety Commission as a preferred impact layer for surfacing in children’s playgrounds. BrockFILL™ also poses no issues related to human health or environmental exposure according to a comprehensive report by an independent third-party test laboratory, and is approved by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety for the Los Angeles School District, the largest school district in the country. But making wood work as a sports performance infill was a difficult task, so a proprietary nine-step production process was developed to get the ideal particle shape, size, and smoothness, remove all splinters and dust, and eliminate any microbes to prevent mold growth.

“The goals of the project were huge”, says Steve Keyser, COO and Vice President of Engineering at Brock USA. “We wanted to tackle all of the safety and performance issues for the athlete, but it also needed to be economically viable and not add significant cost to the product.  Using an organic, abundantly grown product from the USA allows us for the first time to provide a mass market product that competes with crumb rubber on price.”  

The myth that rubber infill alone is enough to protect athletes and children from impact injuries is also crumbling. For nearly two decades Brock USA has proven the necessity of shock pads to be included in the systems to hit industry approved safety standards, including the newest ASTM standard for head injury. Yet fields are still being built directly over stone with crumb rubber as the only protection from head injury because it cuts costs.  The release of BrockFILL™ removes the excuse of cost in creating the safest playing fields.  Combined with a Brock Shock Pad, it’s the only system that meets the high impact safety levels of quality natural grass, which is still the most preferred playing surface by athletes.

Sawyer is optimistic, “Artificial turf is a great solution for so many clients, but our responsibilities as an industry have grown. We know more about athlete safety, heat stress, and brain injury, plus our planet needs sustainable solutions that are affordable. Laying turf over a rock base is a design of the past. Designing for the future means a turf system that is cooler, has a productive end of life solution, and elevates the safety levels to those of a great natural grass field. Now that system is here.”

Athletic Business Interview On BrockFILL

Athletic Business Interview On BrockFILL

Brock USA, the leading manufacturer of shock pads for artificial turf fields, has released the aptly named “BrockFILL” – the first affordable and durable organic replacement for crumb rubber. In late 2014 Brock USA began assembling a team of researchers from universities, sports testing labs, PhD scientists, engineers, horticulturists, and human test subjects.  For three years the team worked to identify, test, and validate natural infill materials that could meet a long list of objectives. One material not only met, but exceeded the team’s expectations.

For those unfamiliar with artificial turf, a typical system is comprised of four key components: the base, a quality shock pad – for impact absorption and safety, the turf itself, and the infill. When construction begins the contractor grades a stone base which includes a drainage system, the shock pad is installed, and then the turf gets rolled out. They sew in the lines, hash marks, logos, and any other design elements and then the infill gets brushed into the turf fibers. Infill holds the turf fibers up, provides the traction, and some cushioning for the field. Traditionally, the infill has consisted of crumb rubber and sand, but recently attempts at alternatives have included materials such as cork, coconut husks, coated sand, walnut shells, and even olive pits.

“The goals of developing Brock’s infill were huge”, says Steve Keyser, COO and Director of Engineering at Brock USA. “We wanted to tackle all of the safety and performance issues, but it also needed to be economically viable and not add cost to the project.”

Ultimately, one particular type of organic material passed the test. It turned out to be one of the most widely used and durable materials in mankind’s history: wood. But making wood work in the artificial turf field application was no easy task.

“Once we identified the southern yellow pine as the ideal material for durability, safety, and sustainability, there were still concerns”, says Keyser. “Will it burn, will it float, can existing infill equipment be used, will it splinter, plus a litany of other failure mechanisms were identified. Which is main reason it took three years to develop, not only the material, but then another year for the process to manufacture it and solve all those problems. We simply would not launch a material that didn’t satisfy ALL of the requirements, but in the end, it did.”

BrockFILL provides greater traction, less splash, a cooler field, better ball bounce, and a more natural feel to the field. The wood particles have performed incredibly well in regards to durability as well. After 20,000 Lisport cycles, the standard wear test for artificial turf simulating 8-10 years of play, the infill lost very little mass, became polished, and even less abrasive. BrockFILL also resists mold and bacteria growth because of its nine-stage manufacturing process, without using chemical processes. The most surprising aspect was how resistant the material is to catching fire. The particles are simply too small to create enough energy for continued combustion.

Wood has been used in playground for decades and is accepted by the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission as a preferred material for fall zones, and it cools down the excessive field temperatures caused by SBR rubber. Using an organic, abundantly grown product from the USA also provides the turf industry a mass market product that competes with crumb rubber on price, unlike small, niche materials like cork or coconut that are made overseas and add significant cost to the project. 

Environmentally, it’s a win-win for the industry. BrockFILL is sourced and made in the USA from sustainable tree farming of forests that are grown for the paper, biofuels and animal markets, there is zero waste in the manufacturing process, and no disposal hazards at the end of the field’s life. BrockFILL has already been approved by Los Angele’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) as a viable replacement for crumb rubber in artificial turf systems.

The myth that rubber infill alone is enough to protect athletes and children from impact injuries is also crumbling. For nearly two decades Brock USA has proven the necessity of shock pads to be included in the systems to hit industry approved safety standards, including the newest ASTM standard for head injury. Yet fields are still being built directly over stone with crumb rubber as the only line of defense because it cuts costs.  The release of BrockFILL removes the excuse of cost in creating the safest playing environment.  

Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA, is optimistic, “Traditional artificial turf has been a great solution for so many clients, but times are changing. We know more about athlete safety, and our planet needs sustainable solutions that are affordable. The system of a rubber infilled carpet laid directly over stone was a good step forward 25 years ago, but innovation and improved care for our athletes must continue. Turf fields of the future need a system that is cooler, has a responsible end of life solution, and elevates the safety levels to those of natural grass.”

Sourcing + Sustainability Matter

Sourcing + Sustainability Matter

Over 2000 new artificial turf fields are being installed every year in the United States. Each one of these fields require 120 tons of crumb rubber infill. Although the Environmental Protection Agency touted this downcycled, re-use methodology for their problem with tire disposal, it is simply a band-aid for the larger problem. That material will end up in a landfill or worse, in our waterways. The artificial turf industry has evolved and developed systems that embrace environmental sustainability and it’s time for all of us – parents, owners, athletes, designers, and turf representatives – to adopt these innovative practices.

Brock USA led the way in sustainable design with the first Cradle to Cradle certified product in the industry. The engineering team understood that a product must have a responsible end-of-life solution in order for it to become sustainable. The Brock shock pads produced 15 years ago are now under fields that are on their second turf life and, according to simulated 100-year testing, will last many more turf replacements. Any artificial turf shock pad damaged during the turf removal and replacement process can be locally recylced or shipped back to our manufacturing plant, washed, ground up, and melted back to its original form to become a new pad for a new artificial turf field. This is the moral foundation for Brock USA and how the company approached solving the crumb rubber crisis.

By starting from the end, Brock’s engineers knew that the ideal infill to supplant crumb rubber had to have an environmentally responsible end of life plan. Organic materials held the best promise for achieving this goal, so identifying what organic infill material could handle the rigorous demands of the 24/7, 365 playability of artificial turf sports fields was the next challenge. After three years of intense research and testing, one material met all the criteria necessary to become BrockFILL – America’s Southern Pine.

This dynamic, abundant, and marvelously durable resource held the promise of a fully sustainable artificial turf system without burdening tax payers with enormous cost hikes. It also achieved a dramatic cooling effect when compared to the traditional crumb rubber systems. But one of the most important moral accomplishments lies in the sustainability and sourcing of BrockFILL.

The logical source for raw material was found right here in the southern United States. The densest areas for forest land in America reside in the “Southern Region” ecoclimatic zone, which includes: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas. This region accounts for 13% of the entire world’s forests and has become the nation’s most valued agricultural crop, according to the South Carolina Forestry Commission. The massive economic resource has also increased by 10% since 1920 and has remained stable for the last 100 years despite 143% increase in population.

This Region has been able to sustain itself, and actually grow by 10%, through a combination of natural seeding and crop management. In the 1996-97 planting season alone 1,923,721 acres were planted in the south. Those trees have already produced at least two harvests and the third and final harvest will yield the eldest, tallest trees from those years. Depending on the forest management strategy and timber production, timber utilization contributes 25% to 85% of the overall reduction of CO2. The map below shows the leading mechanisms for CO2 storage by region. The areas attributing over 50% of their carbon stock to living biomass are predominantly found in the Southern Region ecoclimatic zone.
To unpack all that data, for a tree to grow a pound of wood, a tree consumes about 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide and releases approximately 1.07 pounds of oxygen. Young, well-managed forests tend to be the most efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Old, overcrowded, slow-growing forests begin to use more oxygen than they produce.

By harvesting the younger trees in 7-10 year intervals, tree farmers ensure a robust forest with the most effective air purifiers found in the Southern United States. They also ensure a stronger, more resilient gene pool for their farms.

The sustainable aspects of BrockFILL don’t stop at the farming stage. The parts of the tree that go unused during the nine-stage manufacturing process are then given to other mills near the BrockFILL plant to be used to make paper, wood pellets, mulch and many other products. BrockFILL is part of a larger lumber industry ecosystem where 98% of every tree harvested is utilized for some product.

When BrockFILL has reached the end of its useful life in a turf system it is then used as a soil amendment or mulch/ground cover – helping enrich soils for further plant growth. This end of life plan enables BrockFILL to avoid contributing to the global garbage problem, but actually helps reduce global CO2 emissions.

Every detail was carefully considered when bringing BrockFILL to the sports turf industry. From sourcing within the United States, to allocating uses for its byproducts, to finding a solution for its end of life, the Brock engineering team held true to the moral compass that guides Brock USA.

Research Shows Wood Infill is Safer For Athletes and Artificial Fields

Research Shows Wood Infill is Safer For Athletes and Artificial Fields

Wood products have countless uses in our modern world. From furniture and flooring, to children’s toys and paper products, you are likely never more than an arm’s reach away from something made of wood. Wood is durable, renewable, and affordable, making it an excellent material for a wide range of products. After years of research and testing, a wood-based infill emerged as the natural next step for artificial turf fields.

Wood may seem like an unconventional choice for an infill material. and it is! Other organic infills have been made from cork, coconut husk, and walnut shells, but BrockFILL’s innovative design makes it the first artificial turf infill derived from wood. 

We expected using wood as an infill material would raise some questions. Many people are concerned about splinters or chips that could harm athletes when they slide or fall. However, BrockFILL was specifically engineered using special equipment during the manufacturing process to remove long particles that could become splinters. A successive conditioning process also buffs and smooths particles into a non-abrasive infill. 

Splinters normally occur when contact is made with fixed, rough wood particles such as lumber. BrockFILL particles are mobile and move on contact to prevent splintering and reduce abrasion. Abrasion is one of the most common complaints from athletes who play on artificial turf fields, because an abrasive surface can cause injuries when sliding or diving. BrockFILL was designed to be less abrasive than crumb rubber or other organic infills. 

Independent testing from Labosport, shown above, uses a machine to mimic the velocity and weight of a sliding athlete. The machine measures the heat generated by this contact, since heat and friction are related. BrockFILL generated the lowest temperature (and therefore the lowest friction) of any tested infill. Infills that generate less friction have a lower risk of causing skin abrasions.

BrockFILL also tackles another common complaint athletes have about playing on synthetic surfaces: heat. Artificial fields with crumb rubber infill can reach temperatures of 175+ degrees Fahrenheit. This is dangerous for athletes, and can cause burns, blisters, or heat exhaustion. 

 

The unique properties of wood make BrockFILL significantly cooler than crumb rubber, even without irrigation. The particles are naturally hydrophilic, so they absorb rainwater and condensation to their core. The moisture is slowly released from the particles for extended cooling. This characteristic also makes BrockFILL particles heavy enough to sink, so they won’t float away in the rain. 

Even though BrockFILL fields will be much cooler than a crumb rubber field, mold will not grow in the infertile environment of artificial turf. Mold likes dark, wet, and static environments. An artificial turf field is the opposite. Wood’s ability to resist mold is proven by the thousands of playground and park applications that rely on wood chips for shock absorption. 

To ensure we are creating the safest surface possible for athletes, BrockFILL complies with California Proposition 65 (Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986). This proposition requires businesses to inform Californians about exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. None of the ingredients contained in BrockFILL are subject to reporting under this requirement.

Independent testing determined BrockFILL does not contain detectable concentrations of pesticides, chlorinates acidic herbicide residues, and concentrations of heavy metals are far below screening levels for the protection of human health. Furthermore, allergies typically come from either pine pollen or pine nuts, neither or which are present in BrockFILL. During the BrockFILL manufacturing process, particles are stripped of resin and other compounds that could cause allergens or irritation. 

Removing resin from the wood is also beneficial because it reduces the flammability of BrockFILL. Without resin, the particles will not maintain a flame. When a flames is removed, the small particles do not generate enough heat to ignite other particles. In our testing, the artificial turf fibers actually burn longer than BrockFILL particles when exposed to flames.

After years of extensive research and testing, we believe wood is the best material for an artificial turf infill. The unique properties of wood make BrockFILL a safe and sustainable replacement for crumb rubber infill. 

Still have questions about the safety of BrockFILL? Visit out FAQ page or contact a Brock representative.

BrockFILL in Georgia – Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’

BrockFILL in Georgia – Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’

The student-athletes in Bibb County will see the “latest and greatest technology” to hit the artificial turf market when the gates open at the Ed Defoe Sports Complex later this year. 

“We chose the turf, but what we did with that was we put a pad underneath there,” Athletic Director Barney Hester said. “It is called a Brock Pad. On the football field we are using a new product that Brock has just come out with called Brockfill.”

The Bibb County artificial turf fields will be one of the first installations of Brock’s innovative infill, BrockFILL.  The system relies on Brock PowerBase/YSR to provide impact absorption for heavy falls and also to provide a consistent playing surface for the athletes.  When combined with the non-resilient BrockFILL artificial turf infill, the system more closely mimics a great natural grass field than any other system.

“When you are dealing with turf it is a somewhat more expensive but I don’t think you can take a lesser product,” Hester said. “You always have to look at the dollars and cents, but if you are going to spend, then you have to spend on safety over aesthetics.”

It means a lot to the Brock employees that a project in Georgia is one of the first to get the full BrockFILL-Brock PowerBase/YSR system.  The state has provided Brock with incredible access to the abundant, natural resource used to make BrockFILL and the student-athletes within Bibb County may have friends and relatives working in the forestry industry the company depends upon.

“We could not be more proud to be working with the administration at Bibb County to help provide a safe, high performance playing environment for their student-athletes,” said Ronnie Pascale, Regional Vice President at Brock. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – making sure these kids have the best experience possible without worrying about their safety.”

The field will also contribute directly to the Georgia economy because BrockFILL is sourced from sustainable tree farming in the southern U.S. and manufactured in the state.

“Sustainability is an incredibly important moral obligation for everything we do at Brock,” said Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA. “Georgia is a pioneer in sustainable tree farming for huge industries like paper and biofuels. Now the state is the source for an abundant organic, artificial turf infill that will change the face of the industry. ”

The Brock PowerBase/YSR artificial turf system is also sourced and made in America.  Brock’s PowerBase shock pads are the only shock pad systems available to receive Cradle to Cradle Environmental Certification. This means the products will never end up in a landfill. The pad is re-used over and over as the turf is replaced. But if a field is ever replaced with a building or parking lot, the shock pad is retrieved, sent back to the factory, washed and remolded to make a brand new pad.  BrockFILL also has an environmentally sustainable end of life plan. When the turf needs to be replaced the BrockFILL artificial turf infill is used as a highly effective organic soil amendment for natural turf right on the same campus.

The BrockFILL-Brock PowerBase/YSR system is also one of the highest performing systems in regards to heat, durability, abrasion from sliding, and impact absorption.  To learn more about the performance of these systems visit the BrockFILL and PowerBase/YSR pages. 

Why Shock Pads? 7 reasons why you should always include a shock pad in your artificial turf system

Why Shock Pads? 7 reasons why you should always include a shock pad in your artificial turf system

Informed buyers are getting out of the Stone Age and into the Technology Age. Laying carpet over stone or concrete may have been considered OK ten years ago, but today systems have evolved to provide better drainage, greater safety, greater longevity, and more environmental solutions to a project. There are many reasons why placing a Shock Pad under the turf is now the fastest growing trend in the industry for synthetic turf sports fields:
  • Concussions are front-page news
    • Players, parents, coaches, and fans are now all aware of the dangers for mental health due to contact sports. With 1-in-5 concussions happening from players’ heads hitting the turf it’s important to make sure you have the safest system.
  • Turf lasts longer over a shock pad.
    • Over the last three decades, pitches with no shock pad have been proven to wear out quicker than those with shock pads, as the pad primarily protects the underneath of the surface from the abrasion caused by a hard surface such as stone or asphalt. A pad also reduces the risk of compaction, which again accelerates damage to the fibres and backing.
  • Players prefer turf over a shock pad 
    • Players surveys consistently show that turf directly over stone is the least preferred system and shock pads are preferred.
  • Changing performance and safety standards
    • Passing GMax is not good enough anymore. Not complying with new safety standards that include Head Injury Criterion (HIC) can open field owners up to liability issues after the field is installed. 
  • Lack of Maintenance Resources
    • Most fields do not receive the TLC they need. Without a shock pad, infill displaces and your field may firm up and become a dangerous playing environment.
  • Shock Pad systems save money
    • A quality shock pad is a one time investment and does not have to be replaced when your turf is. And if designed properly, will reduce costs every time you replace your field. A nice legacy to leave! 
  • Newer durable fibers allow for shorter pile heights
    • Thatch zones and monofilament fibers provide enhanced durability for your field, so you don’t need as much infill and can choose a lower pile height, faster surface.

Building your field with a shock pad future proofs your investment and provides the safest playing environment for your athletes and children.

BrockFILL Durability – Why Wood is Good!

BrockFILL Durability – Why Wood is Good!

Trees are some of the most steadfast natural structures in the world; owing to their particularly strong and durable cell walls they are able to withstand extraordinary stresses in the natural environment. It’s this characteristic that makes wood a natural choice for so many current applications and for the development of BrockFILL. There aren’t any additives or modifications that make BrockFILL more durable, it’s just wood doing what it does best. 

Once Brock determined that wood was a promising candidate for infill development, laboratory testing became the logical next step. Effective product development requires rigorous testing, and for our infill, durability is of chief concern. Largely, infill durability is measured through particle size analysis. Particle breakdown is currently the best measure of particle durability and analyzing particle size distributions is the best way to characterize that change. ASTM has not currently set forth a standard for testing infill durability, so much of the testing results are proprietary. Primarily, this testing is performed with the Lisport Classic machine which is designed to simulate turf wear in the highest traffic zones of an artificial turf field. By evaluating the infill from these test samples, Brock can assess the wear BrockFILL would experience under these same circumstances.

Figure 1. Comparison of BrockFILL and SBR particle size.

In order to simulate turf wear, the Lisport machine uses a pair of large weighted cylinders which roll over and shear the test sample. The cylinders have cleats protruding from their surfaces and are connected using gears and a chain. In the same way a bicycle’s pedals drive its rear wheel, the lead cleated cylinder rolls over the surface of the turf and causes the trailing roller to slip as it moves over the turf surface. This creates a shearing action similar to an athlete’s foot turning or accelerating through the turf fibers. As the rollers traverse the turf sample, the tray containing them translates perpendicular to the rollers, further increasing the shearing of the cleats through the turf.

After performing the requisite number of cycles on the plot sample, the infill is collected and evaluated for size and appearance. Size evaluation is reported as a particle size distribution. The figure below shows the results from independent lab testing of BrockFILL and compares them to crumb rubber without any wear testing.

Figure 2. Freeze-Thaw Particle Size Analysis

Additionally, we have been investigating the effects of freezing temperatures on infill to evaluate the seasonal effects of using a hydrophilic material as infill. BrockFILL readily absorbs water which helps it maintain comfortable playing temperatures even in the hottest environments, but it also means the absorbed water will sometimes be subject to freezing. Freezing water can cause significant damage to infrastructure, as we see every year on our roads; similar damage to BrockFILL would be unacceptable. The data shows no correlation among the number of freeze-thaw cycles; the conclusion from this is that BrockFILL is durable enough to withstand harsh weather conditions without reducing its efficacy. In addition to particle size analysis, visual characterization is a valuable tool for evaluating BrockFILL durability. The photos below show the results of visual analysis.

Figure 3 BrockFILL after 20,000 Lisport cycles

Figure 4. BrockFILL after 10 freeze-thaw cycles and 20,000 Lisport cycles

A rigorous testing schedule is critical to the effective development of a new product, and BrockFILL has undergone an intensive battery of tests. Durability is the one of the most important factor to a quality, reliable infill product; the properties of wood ensure that BrockFILL will withstand the abuse inherent to playing fields of all levels.

Elkhorn Area School District Turning Heads With New AstroTurf & Brock

Elkhorn Area School District Turning Heads With New AstroTurf & Brock

In an impressive display of planning, vision, and design, the Elkhorn Area School District as part of a referendum project, redeveloped their entire athletic facility including an indoor training center, tennis courts, new running track, stadium field and two new softball fields. The school chose AstroTurf to cover the four fields with premium synthetic turf systems.

The Elkhorn athletic campus has positioned themselves as a successful model for high schools looking to make significant athletic facility improvements.

Elkhorn leaned heavy on feedback from the community about the fields and the referendum vote included a stipulation to not use SBR rubber in the stadium and indoor facility fields. These are actually the first field in Wisconsin to use natural infill for its synthetic turf field. Elkhorn is also one of only a few schools in Wisconsin that have an indoor training field.

“I would say that the new AstroTurf fields have allowed us far greater opportunities to practice and play than what we have had in the past. We are able to structure our practices with certainty that we are going to be able to have a safe surface to play on. It has also allowed our community youth groups to have greater opportunities to practice,” said Elkhorn Athletic Director Daniel Kiel.

The fields themselves are top of the line. For the indoor and stadium fields, Elkhorn installed an AstroTurf DT-32 system over a Brock Powerbase shock pad. The softball fields now have infields made of the AstroTurf RootZone Diamond-I RBI turf system. These systems are perfect for the durability and performance that will be required by the Elkhorn athletes and the heavy use that these fields will get throughout the year.

Companies Consider Climate Change

Companies Consider Climate Change

The latest Brock product to hit the market, BrockFILL, is also on its way to Cradle-to-Cradle certification. It was crucial that our performance infill for athletes, not only be durable, have low abrasion, and achieve quality traction, but also be organic and not contribute to landfills or water pollution.  BrockFILL has a clear end-of-life plan which is illustrated in the graphic below.  You can also read more on BrockFILL’s environmental sustainability in the article: Sourcing + Sustainability Matter.

ASU Opens Bro & Blegen Agility Field Featuring PowerBase/PRO

ASU Opens Bro & Blegen Agility Field Featuring PowerBase/PRO

“On February 25, Sun Devil Athletics unveiled the new Bro & Blegen Agility Field on the north side of Sun Devil Stadium.

Through generous donations led by Betsy & Kent Bro and Mary & Jay Blegen, as well as Linda and Bart Wear, the new artificial turf field, which measures 53 yards wide by 35 yards long, provides an efficient solution for the football team to perform walk-throughs and agility training throughout the year.

‘Our goal is to provide our student-athletes with the top facilities and experiences possible,’ said Gabe Cagwin, Sun Devil Athletics’ Chief Business Development Officer. ‘This agility field was important to Ray Anderson and head coach Herm Edwards, and we’re extremely fortunate to have passionate supporters like the Bro, Blegen and Wear families to help make this vision a reality.'” (ASU Press Release)

This facility is the latest in a series of upgrades for the Sun Devils, following the creation of a Student-Athlete Facility and a renovation to Sun Devil Stadium. The new agility field features Shaw Sports Turf with Geofill over Brock PowerBase/PRO. Brock’s top-tier PowerBase/PRO is the only performance base system on the market specifically engineered for elite athletes, and its unique characteristics mimic a pristine natural grass field.

Plant-Based Infills Gain Traction in Turf Market – Athletic Business Feature

Plant-Based Infills Gain Traction in Turf Market – Athletic Business Feature

Athletic Business ran a great article on the influx of new organic infill alternatives to crumb rubber.  This growing trend towards embracing solutions for better infills could potentially revolutionize the way turf systems are designed.  BrockFILL was featured prominently as a great new product in this category: 

The newest natural infill product to hit the market with claims that it tackles all of those concerns comes from Brock USA, a company heretofore best known for its contributions to synthetic turf safety and performance in the form of underlying shock pads. BrockFill is an engineered wood particle infill that the company says outperforms other artificial turf infills during rigorous durability, longevity, performance, abrasion and safety testing. Moreover, Brock claims independent research shows its wood infill provides better traction, less splash, truer ball bounce and a more natural feel to synthetic turf fields, while preventing the scorching hot temperatures caused by crumb rubber infill.

BrockFill — which Brock USA CEO Dan Sawyer calls “an elegant solution to a 25-year-old problem” — is sourced and made in the USA from sustainable tree farms that grow for the construction, paper, biofuels and animal bedding markets. There is zero waste in the manufacturing process and no disposal hazards at the end of the artificial turf field’s life. 

Infill’s importance within the field specification process is beginning to sink in with consumers. “A lot of field owners are starting with, ‘What infill do I need? I want to start with the infill first and figure out which infill is going to fit exactly what I’m looking for, and then I’ll build the rest of the system around that,’ ” Coleman says.

BrockFILL “Brings New Life” to Ed Defore Sports Complex

BrockFILL “Brings New Life” to Ed Defore Sports Complex

After reading research, field visits, and investigation, Macon-Bibb County made the decision to create a safer, higher performing playing environment for their student athletes. Ed Defore sports complex was scheduled to have two fields renovated this spring and chose Brock PowerBase/YSR shock pad systems to go under their AstroTurf 3D3 Blend HD turf system with rootzone for both. The timing was prophetic since BrockFILL, a new advanced organic infill, was being manufactured just down the road in southern GA. This advancement in artificial turf technology significantly cools the field, is non-resilient – making it faster and more natural to play on, and is environmentally friendly.

“Heat here is crazy, especially in the months here that we play football, so that was a huge factor for us,” Hester said. “With the technology that’s out there now you have to think safety before you think anything else. I felt that once we chose Brock(FILL), it was a no brainer.” 

The combination of BrockFILL, the PowerBase/YSR shock pad system, and AstroTurf’s high-density, low pile height turf create a firm, fast surface for the athletes.  This was an important factor for the West Side Seminole coaching staff.

“You can get out of cuts quicker. The wide receivers the running backs, the line backers, those kids are explosive kids, so they try to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. This type of surface helps that because it’s not as bouncy as the rubber beads,” said Head Football Coach “Spoon” Risper. “You want a fast surface. The skilled athletes love it, and even the linemen these days, they love a fast turf. That’s one of the main things you’re looking for in playing on turf.”

Ed Defore complex has two sports fields adjacent from one another. The first to be installed was the soccer field. This system utilized a crumb rubber/sand infill with a zeolite top dressing to help with cooling. The district’s soccer season happens in the spring time when temperatures do not reach the dangerous levels found in the late summer, fall when football is played. Heat wasn’t as big of a concern for the soccer field, according to Hester, but the impact attenuation was a major concern for both fields. That’s why the district went with the PowerBase/YSR shock pad system for both fields.

“It’s a great peace of mind knowing that shock pad is underneath there,” said Risper. “Of course you can’t prevent all concussions, but this is a huge step in helping to prevent concussions.”

The new fields at Ed Defore complex were designed by Don Carter at Carter Engineering Group, Inc. With over 35 years experience and over 200 fields installed, Carter knew what was important for the district beyond creating a safe playing environment.  He was concerned with drainage and maintenance for the fields.

“In the field we work in, it’s a lot of publicly funded schools and they don’t have a lot of maintenance staff or they’re stretched for other duties and they might not have the experience and background to properly maintain a turf field,” Carter said. “And  drainage is important for playability and longevity of a field.”

Drainage was also a factor for Hester and the decision-making team behind both fields. “With the design of the drainage and the design of the pad, we wanted something where if we had a torrential downpour, we could get the water off the field and play,” Hester stated.

Carter was confident in the systems drainage capabilities because of the fields he had designed with the Brock PowerBase/YSR drainage system the previous year. “The system has been tested here. Last year we had some record rainfalls and the fields we have here didn’t see any problems at all,” said Carter.

The unique design of the sports complex, having one field utilize a more traditional crumb rubber system and the second field installing BrockFILL, poses a great case study to monitor temperature reduction for organic crumb rubber replacements. “We’re really hoping for significant differences in temperature, maybe 30 degrees or more,” said Carter.

The excitement is palpable now that the fields are in place and ready for the athletes to strap on their cleats and start playing. Even as the fields were being built, Coach Risper and his players would sit atop the bleachers and just look at the field.

“We just look at it because it’s just so beautiful. It just brings this whole stadium back to life. We’re really pumped about it,” said Risper. “I just have to get out on this field because it’s been such a long time coming for our community.”

Hatchlings hold up Grand Opening for Brock Field – Rio Americano High School

Hatchlings hold up Grand Opening for Brock Field – Rio Americano High School

A story that has been heartwarming for some, frustrating for others, began earlier this month when the Rio Americano High School’s lacrosse team was getting ready to practice on their new “Field of Dreams.” Unfortunately for the eager athletes, the construction crew found a nest of four Killdeer eggs nestled in one of the end zones. Due to the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the school had to wait in anticipation for the little chicks to hatch.

The FieldTurf field designed for football, soccer, and lacrosse features Brock PowerBase/YSR and their organic infill, Purefill, making it one of the most advanced systems installed in the nation. The complex also features a brand new running track, shot put and discus throwing areas and sprinting and long-jump alleys.  With all the excitement that was surrounding the grand opening on April 2nd, it was undoubtedly disappointing to see the killdeer mama bird skipping toward her eggs.

“The bird showed up, and we’ll just let it do it’s thing and then we’ll use the field when we can,” Ginter told the Sacramento Bee.

The long wait finally ended last week Wednesday and the student athletes are scheduled to take to the field next week.  Fortunately for the team, the bird’s migratory patterns predict that they will be on their way soon and will likely not return.

Adidas Joins Growing List of Companies Creating No-Waste Products

Adidas recently unveiled their 100% recyclable shoe called the Futurecraft Loop after more than 6 years of research and development. This is a great advancement from our friends in the sports manufacturing industry.  We hope many more companies follow Adidas and Brock’s commitment to closed-loop recycling efforts.

The Futurecraft Loop joins a line of other Adidas Futurecraft products, including a shoe made from ocean waste, that have reportedly net $1 billion. However, the Futurecraft products aren’t initially designed to be highly profitable. Instead, they are “statements of intent,” that allow Adidas designers to push footwear forward.

The most challenging part of creating the Futurecraft Loop was designing a shoe for a circular life cycle. Recycling shoes has been a challenge for footwear manufactures, since they are typically made of many different materials that can be difficult to separate. To solve this problem, the Loop is made from a single material, thermoplastic polyurethane. When the original shoes are worn out, they will be given back to Adidas, ground up into pellets, melted down, and used to create a brand new pair. 

This process is similar to the Cradle-to-Cradle certification, where the concept of waste is completely eliminated. Brock PowerBase is the first shock pad in the industry to be certified Cradle-to-Cradle. Much like the Adidas Futurecraft Loop designers, Brock engineers stress that when it comes to throwing things away, there is no real “away.” Instead of being sent to a landfill, Brock PowerBase shock pads are sent back to the factory, processed, cleaned, ground into pellets, and reused to make new shock pads. 

Improving athletic performance doesn’t have to come at a cost to the environment. Taking ownership of for the afterlife of products is starting to become a trend in the athletic industry. Brock USA, Adidas, and others are already leading the way. This type of engineering will ensure sports are good for players, fans, and the planet. 

Research & Logic Concludes: Shock Pads = Safer Fields

Infilled artificial turf was a great step forward in our attempts to replicate natural grass, but that innovation is already 25+ years old and science has pressed onwards.  The turf industry has created thatched systems, developed new infills, weighed the benefits of slit-film and monofilament turf styles, and one of the most important innovations came a decade after rubber/sand infill over stone systems – the innovations in shock pad technology. But why were shock pads necessary if the infilled systems provide impact attenuation and adequate cleat grip?  The simple answer is:  Infill is not enough.

  • Infill compacts over time – Depending on infill alone to provide cushion for falls is risky because infill inevitably compacts and becomes firm over time.
  • Infill migrates –You see the infill splash every time an athlete kicks a ball or slides onto the turf. Those instances move the infill around the field and in as quick as one half of gameplay, the infill in high traffic areas is greatly depleted. These regions where most of the action takes place are comparable to playing on the compacted stone below.
  • Lack of maintenance –Artificial turf was sold by some as “maintenance free,” and although the myth has been debunked by all ethical industry professionals, it is still a great challenge for school districts and municipalities to keep up with the proper maintenance. An investigative story found 85% of north Texas fields did not meet safety requirements due to lack of maintenance.
  • “Tuning” systems for performance – By removing the safety component from the infill, you allow yourself to tune the entire system to provide a firmer, faster surface to run on while also providing a safe surface for impacts.
  • More infill = soft surfaces – Surface hardness and impact attenuation run inversely to one another. This is a major reason why trying to achieve both through crumb rubber is an impossibility.  The more rubber you add, the softer the surface = more lower extremity injuries.  The less rubber you include, the harder the surface = more impact injuries. Only by utilizing the latest generation (Gen 4) systems that include a quality shock pad for impact attenuation can you achieve a firm, safe surface.
  • Turf lasts longer over a shock pad – Fields with no shock pad have been proven to wear out quicker than those with shock pads, as the pad primarily protects the turf backing from the abrasion caused by a hard surface such as stone or asphalt.

 

Testing Labs and Universities Recommend Shock Pads, Athletes prefer fields with shock pads 

The shortcomings of crumb-rubber-over-stone systems led to a lot of testing and research into why shock pads make artificial turf systems perform better and reduce the risk of injury for athletes.  It all started with benchmarking natural grass and identifying what the goal was for artificial turf in regards to safety and performance. This research was conducted extensively utilizing 16 grass/soil variations and then averaging the results to find where a great natural grass lands according to approved test methods. What the scientists found when they compared those results to the various turf systems (rubber/sand over stone, high pile heights, low pile heights, and various shock pad systems) was the systems with shock pads were much closer to the results of the natural grass fields. The shock pad systems also added to the consistency of the surfaces and improved stability under foot when compared to rubber/sand over stone, according to a biomechanics study utilizing force plates and live athletes. 

With the benchmark of natural grass in mind, testing labs like Sportslabs and labosport, the leading field testing agencies in the world, began collecting data on hundreds of fields to build databases to analyze the performance of various systems in order to assist purchasers. One blind study by Sportslabs found athletes overwhelmingly prefer turf with a shock pad when compared to turf without shock pads without knowing which type they’re playing on. The athletes scored the fields on a number of factors including: ball roll, firmness, impact absorption, consistency, and more.  The study has directly led to every artificial turf field in professional soccer clubs in Scotland installing shock pads on all 3G facilities.  Shouldn’t the goal of a playing field be to give the athletes what they prefer? 

 

Governing Sports Bodies Encourage Including Shock Pads

These findings have led the governing bodies for World Rugby, FIFA, and International Field Hockey (FIH) to establish guidelines for artificial turf systems that only shock pad systems can achieve and maintain. By publishing the One Turf Concept and working on the ASTM F3146-18 standard, the facilitators of these sports organizations sent a message to the industry that the latest shock pad systems are where the industry needs to move. 

Players’ safety is these organizations number one priority and even the NFL has begun to see the light in regards to surface safety. In 2019, the NFL published a study indicating a higher rate of lower leg injuries on artificial turf than on natural grass. So benchmarking natural grass performance is tantamount to a quality artificial surface. The winner of the NFL’s 2015 Head Health Challenge received over a million dollars to focus on the development of a new shock pad for artificial turf.  Unfortunately, that pad has not made it to the marketplace, but it hasn’t stopped NFL teams from investing in shock pad technologies.  Their players spend most of their time on the practice fields, which has led to the Patriots, 49’ers, Eagles, Cardinals, Bears, Colts, Texans, and Cowboys installing Brock PowerBase/PRO.  The NFL is now taking concussion risk prevention seriously and have heeded the recommendations of the Concussion Legacy Foundation for including shock pads after the publication of a white paper that found more than 1 in 5 concussions occur from head to surface impacts. The CLF has also included “Playing Area and Surfaces” in their Concussion Checklist as a resource for parents to know how safe the fields are where their children are playing.

 

Turf Companies Have Embraced Shock Pads

The number one turf manufacturer in the United States, Fieldturf, the company that also purchases more Brock shock pads than almost any other turf brand, has invested heavily in shock pad variations over the last few years.  In fact they recently purchased a small pad company in Canada. Their attempts at reaching the performance of Brock shock pads are a great example of how difficult it is to do what Brock has accomplished in engineering their pads.

Not all shock pads are created equal.  Simply installing any shock pad system will not ensure added safety or performance.  In fact, by including lower tier shock pads you can actually make your field too soft to run on and still not hit the impact results found in natural grass. There are many examples where owners decided to install a cheaper shock pad and were forced to rip out the entire system when the turf came up for replacement. Do your homework and ask specifically what pads were installed when confronted by shock pad naysayers.

Fieldturf is not the only turf company to embrace shock pads. Shaw Sports Turf has declared the next evolution of turf to be one that relies on non-resilient organic infills and high performance shock pads. Also, Astroturf was the first major turf organization to install Brock’s organic BrockFILL solution combined with Brock PowerBase/YSR and are among the top purchasers of Brock shock pad systems.  Other turf manufacturers who have embraced shock pad technology include Hellas Construction, Greenfields, ACT Global Group, Sprinturf, and many others.  The shock pad industry as a whole has seen a growing percentage of fields installed in the U.S. and now accounts for nearly 50% of the new fields being installed every year.

Only One “Study” contradicts entire research community

The only pushback to the science of these next generation artificial turf systems comes from one researcher and his ongoing “study” on how infill weights correlate to injury rates.  The troubling side of his research comes from how its results factor into the marketing strategy for the turf company which provided its sole source of funding.  As of 2017, the professor has received over $1,000,000 from that turf manufacturer, and the company is mentioned over 50 times in his resume. It just so happens, this company wishes to push the narrative that low-density turf with high amounts of infill create a better playing environment. In other words, the study promotes the system they sell. 

Throwing a few high percentage statistics on a marketing piece without any data behind it is not research. The damage of this pay-to-play “science” comes in how it affects the athletes themselves and stalls progress in achieving ideal playing environments. The innovations in sports surfaces cannot be delayed and deferred because every new field installed without consideration of the latest technologies and science available can have lasting effects.

When presented with data from a questionable source it’s important to find external sources. Had the general public relied solely on the “studies” provided by Big Tobacco, we would all be smoking and training for our marathons with the belief our lungs were getting stronger. It takes inquisitive minds and people willing to see through propaganda to continue making the environments our children and athletes play as safe as possible.

Don’t take our word for it

If you would like to speak directly with any research organizations who specialize in artificial turf science, please reach out to them directly.  It’s not Brock who is moving the industry forward in regards to shock pads, it is the scientific community and educated community leaders who value child and athlete safety.

  • University of Tennessee – Turfgrass Center
  • Concussion Legacy Foundation
  • Sportslabs 
  • Labosport
  • North Carolina State University – leading researcher on organic infills
  • Colorado State University
  • Boston University

Other leading universities with athlete research centers using shock pads to protect their student athletes:

  • Harvard
  • Stanford
  • Dartmouth
  • University of North Carolina
  • Colorado University – Boulder
  • University of Nevada – Las Vegas 
  • Northwestern University
  • University of California – Los Angeles
  • Cornell 
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of San Francisco
  • Missou
  • and many more…
Check out all the other universities, municipalities, school districts and professional facilities trust our shock pad systems to protect their athletes.

 

The Wonders of Wood
Replacement for Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market
Athletic Business Interview On BrockFILL
Sourcing + Sustainability Matter
Research Shows Wood Infill is Safer For Athletes and Artificial Fields
BrockFILL in Georgia – Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’
Why Shock Pads? 7 reasons why you should always include a shock pad in your artificial turf system
BrockFILL Durability – Why Wood is Good!
Elkhorn Area School District Turning Heads With New AstroTurf & Brock
Companies Consider Climate Change
ASU Opens Bro & Blegen Agility Field Featuring PowerBase/PRO
Plant-Based Infills Gain Traction in Turf Market – Athletic Business Feature
BrockFILL “Brings New Life” to Ed Defore Sports Complex
Hatchlings hold up Grand Opening for Brock Field – Rio Americano High School
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The Wonders of Wood

The Wonders of Wood

Wood has been part of mankind’s evolution for millennia. Thirty-one percent of the planets’ surface is covered by forests, so it’s no wonder that this amazing natural material has been used by man since the dawn of our existence. From the fires that kept us warm and cooked our food, to the log cabins that sheltered us, to the ships that crossed the oceans. After centuries, wood continues to play an important role in our lives.  

“Finding a way to make wood work as an infill for artificial turf was an elegant solution to a 25-year-old problem,” says Sawyer. “We use wood every day. To build our homes, baby toys, play sets, bowls and plates, cooking utensils, and in so many other ways.  So we knew from a human health perspective, it was a safe raw material.”    

As the artificial turf industry has searched for an alternative to the scorching hot temperatures caused by crumb rubber, wood has emerged as the most effective solution. There are several key benefits to wood as an infill: It’s organic so there is no hazardous waste at the end of the turf’s life, it’s an abundant, renewable resource that is sustainably grown and harvested in the USA. It’s incredibly durable when engineered properly, and it’s affordable since there are already large industries, such as the paper, biofuels and animal industry that use huge quantities already. In the development of BrockFILLBrock USA leveraged thsupply chain of these industries and engineered the process to make an affordable, quality wood infill. 

Wood is also excellent in the infill application due to its natural resistance to UV degradation Fences, house siding, and other outdoor uses with constant UV exposure last for decades, far longer than artificial turf will last. Wood is also a wonderful material for its malleability. Think about all the uses and the different forms it comes in. In furniture, it’s curved, colored, smoothed, tailored and strong. Wooden toys for children are preferred to plastic towards the growing health conscious population. Most parents know that Thomas the Tank Engine and wooden building blocks are safe for their kidsMusical instruments, boats, outdoor gardens where we grow our vegetable, and the list goes on and on. 

BrockFILL wood particles also have a quality that makes it ideal for artificial turf. They are hydrophilic,, meaning they like water. So during a rainfall or even condensation in humid climates, they absorb natural moisture. When the water source stops, they slowly release the water through evaporation. This keeps the field cool for days even without additional water. Since the material absorbs water, they also gain weight and stability so they don’t float like other materials such as cork. (Cork is hydrophobic meaning it repels water which is why cork is used for wine stoppers and flotation devices.) 

During snowfall and freezing temperatures, all fields freeze regardless of infill. However, because moisture is retained in BrockFILL, the thawing time for the field, generated by the heat gain in the artificial turf fibers, will most likely be longer than a field with Crumb rubber. An artificial turf field with BrockFILL will probably fall between a natural grass field and an artificial field with rubber when it comes to thawing time. However, since there is a shock pad below the turf, impact absorption will still occur. 

BrockFILL uses wood in its pure form, without coatings that can come off, or blending with other materials that would negate its sustainable benefit. But to be used as an infill, the wood needed to be chipped, dried, sorted for particle size, conditioned, de-splintered, and smoothed to meet the desired performance criteria.  But in the end, it’s just one material.  Its purity is what makes it special. 

The basic structure of wood is what makes it strong. BrockFILL achieves a specific grain orientation during processing. Without that grain orientation you end up with sawdust. The proprietary processing of BrockFILL results in an infill that is incredibly durable. A method called particle size distribution, which measures the particle sizes before and after wear testing, shows virtually not change after 8-10 years of use, and virtually the same particle sizes as brand new crumb rubber.

Most people think wood molds and rots. And that’s true if wood is in the presence of natures normal biological activity that occurs on soils. But artificial turf is a virtually sterile environment. Below BrockFILL is a layer of sand, then plastic backing of the turf, then the shock pad, then a stone base free of organics. So biological activity is eliminated. But at the end of the turf life, when BrockFILL is used as a soil amendment for natural grass, it is returned to the normal soil conditions that promote decomposition.  This is the same reasoning behind why fences last so long. They are off the ground and not subject to biological activity. Taking advantage of the lack of biology in artificial turf made wood an ideal solution. 

Pine wood is also very low on the allergen scale. Although wood pollen can create irritation during allergy season, and some people have allergies to pine nuts, neither of these components exist in BrockFILL. Even the idea of prolonged exposure to fine wood dust causing cancer, such as an employee in a lumber mill working for decades without a mask, is now debatable. But since BrockFILL is a clean, durable particle that does not contain or produce dust, these concerns do not apply. After all, children have been playing on engineered wood fiber playgrounds safely for decades. 

Wood also plays an important role in our economy. The state of GA alone is growing 50% more trees today than were grown in 1950, realizes $35 billion in economic impact and creates 144,000 jobs. This is the result of the conversion of difficult to farm land into forests of southern pine, the predominant wood used in fuel pellets, animal bedding and for the paper industry. And now BrockFILL. Yet despite the size of the artificial turf market, it is dwarfed by these other uses, so using wood as an infill does not increase the demand for trees. 

Wood has been and will continue to touch our daily lives. And now it brings its benefits to an industry that needs a solution to the scalding temperatures, disposal, and micro-plastics issues caused by crumb rubber infill. Attention to the health and safety of our athletes is a growing concern. Attention to the health of our planet is of paramount importance. Now artificial turf can take the natural evolutionary step by replacing crumb rubber with an essential component that is good for people, and good for the planet. 

Replacement for Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market

Replacement for Crumb Rubber Hits Artificial Turf Market

Boulder, CO  – Brock USA, the leading manufacturer of shock pads for artificial turf fields, has released the first affordable and durable organic replacement for crumb rubber infill for artificial turf – aptly named “BrockFILL™.” Artificial turf fields have four key components: a stone or concrete base, a quality shock pad – for impact absorption and safety, the turf itself, and the infill. The infill holds the turf fibers up, provides the traction, and some cushioning for the field. Traditionally, the infill has consisted of crumb rubber (those black specks seen splashing when players cut or dive) and sand, but crumb rubber infill has been the subject of numerous investigations and news articles related to human health and safety as well as environmental concerns. For this reason, companies have tried to find alternatives. The representatives from Brock USA believe they have found the replacement.

In late 2015 Brock USA began assembling a team of researchers from universities, sports testing labs, PhD scientists, engineers, horticulturists, and human test subjects from around the world to develop a safe and cost-effective organic infill. For three years the team worked to identify, test, and validate natural infill materials that could meet a long list of objectives. One material, not only met, but exceeded the team’s expectations according to Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA.

BrockFILL™ utilizes a tried and true, safe raw material that has been used by mankind for centuries: wood. BrockFILL™ is an engineered wood particle infill that outperforms other artificial turf infills during rigorous durability, longevity, performance, abrasion, and safety testing.  BrockFILL™ provides better traction, less splash, better ball bounce, a more natural feel to an artificial turf field, and prevents the scorching hot temperatures caused by crumb rubber infill, according to a 156-page report combining all the independent research.

“Finding a way to make wood work as an infill was an elegant solution to a 25-year-old problem,” says Sawyer. “We use wood every day. To build our homes, baby toys, play sets, bowls and plates, cooking utensils, and in so many other ways.  So we knew from a human health perspective, it was a safe raw material.”

Environmentally, it’s a win-win for the industry. BrockFILL™ is sourced and made in the USA from sustainable tree farming of forests grown for the construction, paper, biofuels, and animal bedding markets. There is zero waste in the manufacturing process and no disposal hazards at the end of the artificial turf field’s life. Wood is even suggested by the Consumer Products Safety Commission as a preferred impact layer for surfacing in children’s playgrounds. BrockFILL™ also poses no issues related to human health or environmental exposure according to a comprehensive report by an independent third-party test laboratory, and is approved by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety for the Los Angeles School District, the largest school district in the country. But making wood work as a sports performance infill was a difficult task, so a proprietary nine-step production process was developed to get the ideal particle shape, size, and smoothness, remove all splinters and dust, and eliminate any microbes to prevent mold growth.

“The goals of the project were huge”, says Steve Keyser, COO and Vice President of Engineering at Brock USA. “We wanted to tackle all of the safety and performance issues for the athlete, but it also needed to be economically viable and not add significant cost to the product.  Using an organic, abundantly grown product from the USA allows us for the first time to provide a mass market product that competes with crumb rubber on price.”  

The myth that rubber infill alone is enough to protect athletes and children from impact injuries is also crumbling. For nearly two decades Brock USA has proven the necessity of shock pads to be included in the systems to hit industry approved safety standards, including the newest ASTM standard for head injury. Yet fields are still being built directly over stone with crumb rubber as the only protection from head injury because it cuts costs.  The release of BrockFILL™ removes the excuse of cost in creating the safest playing fields.  Combined with a Brock Shock Pad, it’s the only system that meets the high impact safety levels of quality natural grass, which is still the most preferred playing surface by athletes.

Sawyer is optimistic, “Artificial turf is a great solution for so many clients, but our responsibilities as an industry have grown. We know more about athlete safety, heat stress, and brain injury, plus our planet needs sustainable solutions that are affordable. Laying turf over a rock base is a design of the past. Designing for the future means a turf system that is cooler, has a productive end of life solution, and elevates the safety levels to those of a great natural grass field. Now that system is here.”

Athletic Business Interview On BrockFILL

Athletic Business Interview On BrockFILL

Brock USA, the leading manufacturer of shock pads for artificial turf fields, has released the aptly named “BrockFILL” – the first affordable and durable organic replacement for crumb rubber. In late 2014 Brock USA began assembling a team of researchers from universities, sports testing labs, PhD scientists, engineers, horticulturists, and human test subjects.  For three years the team worked to identify, test, and validate natural infill materials that could meet a long list of objectives. One material not only met, but exceeded the team’s expectations.

For those unfamiliar with artificial turf, a typical system is comprised of four key components: the base, a quality shock pad – for impact absorption and safety, the turf itself, and the infill. When construction begins the contractor grades a stone base which includes a drainage system, the shock pad is installed, and then the turf gets rolled out. They sew in the lines, hash marks, logos, and any other design elements and then the infill gets brushed into the turf fibers. Infill holds the turf fibers up, provides the traction, and some cushioning for the field. Traditionally, the infill has consisted of crumb rubber and sand, but recently attempts at alternatives have included materials such as cork, coconut husks, coated sand, walnut shells, and even olive pits.

“The goals of developing Brock’s infill were huge”, says Steve Keyser, COO and Director of Engineering at Brock USA. “We wanted to tackle all of the safety and performance issues, but it also needed to be economically viable and not add cost to the project.”

Ultimately, one particular type of organic material passed the test. It turned out to be one of the most widely used and durable materials in mankind’s history: wood. But making wood work in the artificial turf field application was no easy task.

“Once we identified the southern yellow pine as the ideal material for durability, safety, and sustainability, there were still concerns”, says Keyser. “Will it burn, will it float, can existing infill equipment be used, will it splinter, plus a litany of other failure mechanisms were identified. Which is main reason it took three years to develop, not only the material, but then another year for the process to manufacture it and solve all those problems. We simply would not launch a material that didn’t satisfy ALL of the requirements, but in the end, it did.”

BrockFILL provides greater traction, less splash, a cooler field, better ball bounce, and a more natural feel to the field. The wood particles have performed incredibly well in regards to durability as well. After 20,000 Lisport cycles, the standard wear test for artificial turf simulating 8-10 years of play, the infill lost very little mass, became polished, and even less abrasive. BrockFILL also resists mold and bacteria growth because of its nine-stage manufacturing process, without using chemical processes. The most surprising aspect was how resistant the material is to catching fire. The particles are simply too small to create enough energy for continued combustion.

Wood has been used in playground for decades and is accepted by the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission as a preferred material for fall zones, and it cools down the excessive field temperatures caused by SBR rubber. Using an organic, abundantly grown product from the USA also provides the turf industry a mass market product that competes with crumb rubber on price, unlike small, niche materials like cork or coconut that are made overseas and add significant cost to the project. 

Environmentally, it’s a win-win for the industry. BrockFILL is sourced and made in the USA from sustainable tree farming of forests that are grown for the paper, biofuels and animal markets, there is zero waste in the manufacturing process, and no disposal hazards at the end of the field’s life. BrockFILL has already been approved by Los Angele’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) as a viable replacement for crumb rubber in artificial turf systems.

The myth that rubber infill alone is enough to protect athletes and children from impact injuries is also crumbling. For nearly two decades Brock USA has proven the necessity of shock pads to be included in the systems to hit industry approved safety standards, including the newest ASTM standard for head injury. Yet fields are still being built directly over stone with crumb rubber as the only line of defense because it cuts costs.  The release of BrockFILL removes the excuse of cost in creating the safest playing environment.  

Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA, is optimistic, “Traditional artificial turf has been a great solution for so many clients, but times are changing. We know more about athlete safety, and our planet needs sustainable solutions that are affordable. The system of a rubber infilled carpet laid directly over stone was a good step forward 25 years ago, but innovation and improved care for our athletes must continue. Turf fields of the future need a system that is cooler, has a responsible end of life solution, and elevates the safety levels to those of natural grass.”

Sourcing + Sustainability Matter

Sourcing + Sustainability Matter

Over 2000 new artificial turf fields are being installed every year in the United States. Each one of these fields require 120 tons of crumb rubber infill. Although the Environmental Protection Agency touted this downcycled, re-use methodology for their problem with tire disposal, it is simply a band-aid for the larger problem. That material will end up in a landfill or worse, in our waterways. The artificial turf industry has evolved and developed systems that embrace environmental sustainability and it’s time for all of us – parents, owners, athletes, designers, and turf representatives – to adopt these innovative practices.

Brock USA led the way in sustainable design with the first Cradle to Cradle certified product in the industry. The engineering team understood that a product must have a responsible end-of-life solution in order for it to become sustainable. The Brock shock pads produced 15 years ago are now under fields that are on their second turf life and, according to simulated 100-year testing, will last many more turf replacements. Any artificial turf shock pad damaged during the turf removal and replacement process can be locally recylced or shipped back to our manufacturing plant, washed, ground up, and melted back to its original form to become a new pad for a new artificial turf field. This is the moral foundation for Brock USA and how the company approached solving the crumb rubber crisis.

By starting from the end, Brock’s engineers knew that the ideal infill to supplant crumb rubber had to have an environmentally responsible end of life plan. Organic materials held the best promise for achieving this goal, so identifying what organic infill material could handle the rigorous demands of the 24/7, 365 playability of artificial turf sports fields was the next challenge. After three years of intense research and testing, one material met all the criteria necessary to become BrockFILL – America’s Southern Pine.

This dynamic, abundant, and marvelously durable resource held the promise of a fully sustainable artificial turf system without burdening tax payers with enormous cost hikes. It also achieved a dramatic cooling effect when compared to the traditional crumb rubber systems. But one of the most important moral accomplishments lies in the sustainability and sourcing of BrockFILL.

The logical source for raw material was found right here in the southern United States. The densest areas for forest land in America reside in the “Southern Region” ecoclimatic zone, which includes: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas. This region accounts for 13% of the entire world’s forests and has become the nation’s most valued agricultural crop, according to the South Carolina Forestry Commission. The massive economic resource has also increased by 10% since 1920 and has remained stable for the last 100 years despite 143% increase in population.

This Region has been able to sustain itself, and actually grow by 10%, through a combination of natural seeding and crop management. In the 1996-97 planting season alone 1,923,721 acres were planted in the south. Those trees have already produced at least two harvests and the third and final harvest will yield the eldest, tallest trees from those years. Depending on the forest management strategy and timber production, timber utilization contributes 25% to 85% of the overall reduction of CO2. The map below shows the leading mechanisms for CO2 storage by region. The areas attributing over 50% of their carbon stock to living biomass are predominantly found in the Southern Region ecoclimatic zone.
To unpack all that data, for a tree to grow a pound of wood, a tree consumes about 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide and releases approximately 1.07 pounds of oxygen. Young, well-managed forests tend to be the most efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Old, overcrowded, slow-growing forests begin to use more oxygen than they produce.

By harvesting the younger trees in 7-10 year intervals, tree farmers ensure a robust forest with the most effective air purifiers found in the Southern United States. They also ensure a stronger, more resilient gene pool for their farms.

The sustainable aspects of BrockFILL don’t stop at the farming stage. The parts of the tree that go unused during the nine-stage manufacturing process are then given to other mills near the BrockFILL plant to be used to make paper, wood pellets, mulch and many other products. BrockFILL is part of a larger lumber industry ecosystem where 98% of every tree harvested is utilized for some product.

When BrockFILL has reached the end of its useful life in a turf system it is then used as a soil amendment or mulch/ground cover – helping enrich soils for further plant growth. This end of life plan enables BrockFILL to avoid contributing to the global garbage problem, but actually helps reduce global CO2 emissions.

Every detail was carefully considered when bringing BrockFILL to the sports turf industry. From sourcing within the United States, to allocating uses for its byproducts, to finding a solution for its end of life, the Brock engineering team held true to the moral compass that guides Brock USA.

Research Shows Wood Infill is Safer For Athletes and Artificial Fields

Research Shows Wood Infill is Safer For Athletes and Artificial Fields

Wood products have countless uses in our modern world. From furniture and flooring, to children’s toys and paper products, you are likely never more than an arm’s reach away from something made of wood. Wood is durable, renewable, and affordable, making it an excellent material for a wide range of products. After years of research and testing, a wood-based infill emerged as the natural next step for artificial turf fields.

Wood may seem like an unconventional choice for an infill material. and it is! Other organic infills have been made from cork, coconut husk, and walnut shells, but BrockFILL’s innovative design makes it the first artificial turf infill derived from wood. 

We expected using wood as an infill material would raise some questions. Many people are concerned about splinters or chips that could harm athletes when they slide or fall. However, BrockFILL was specifically engineered using special equipment during the manufacturing process to remove long particles that could become splinters. A successive conditioning process also buffs and smooths particles into a non-abrasive infill. 

Splinters normally occur when contact is made with fixed, rough wood particles such as lumber. BrockFILL particles are mobile and move on contact to prevent splintering and reduce abrasion. Abrasion is one of the most common complaints from athletes who play on artificial turf fields, because an abrasive surface can cause injuries when sliding or diving. BrockFILL was designed to be less abrasive than crumb rubber or other organic infills. 

Independent testing from Labosport, shown above, uses a machine to mimic the velocity and weight of a sliding athlete. The machine measures the heat generated by this contact, since heat and friction are related. BrockFILL generated the lowest temperature (and therefore the lowest friction) of any tested infill. Infills that generate less friction have a lower risk of causing skin abrasions.

BrockFILL also tackles another common complaint athletes have about playing on synthetic surfaces: heat. Artificial fields with crumb rubber infill can reach temperatures of 175+ degrees Fahrenheit. This is dangerous for athletes, and can cause burns, blisters, or heat exhaustion. 

 

The unique properties of wood make BrockFILL significantly cooler than crumb rubber, even without irrigation. The particles are naturally hydrophilic, so they absorb rainwater and condensation to their core. The moisture is slowly released from the particles for extended cooling. This characteristic also makes BrockFILL particles heavy enough to sink, so they won’t float away in the rain. 

Even though BrockFILL fields will be much cooler than a crumb rubber field, mold will not grow in the infertile environment of artificial turf. Mold likes dark, wet, and static environments. An artificial turf field is the opposite. Wood’s ability to resist mold is proven by the thousands of playground and park applications that rely on wood chips for shock absorption. 

To ensure we are creating the safest surface possible for athletes, BrockFILL complies with California Proposition 65 (Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986). This proposition requires businesses to inform Californians about exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. None of the ingredients contained in BrockFILL are subject to reporting under this requirement.

Independent testing determined BrockFILL does not contain detectable concentrations of pesticides, chlorinates acidic herbicide residues, and concentrations of heavy metals are far below screening levels for the protection of human health. Furthermore, allergies typically come from either pine pollen or pine nuts, neither or which are present in BrockFILL. During the BrockFILL manufacturing process, particles are stripped of resin and other compounds that could cause allergens or irritation. 

Removing resin from the wood is also beneficial because it reduces the flammability of BrockFILL. Without resin, the particles will not maintain a flame. When a flames is removed, the small particles do not generate enough heat to ignite other particles. In our testing, the artificial turf fibers actually burn longer than BrockFILL particles when exposed to flames.

After years of extensive research and testing, we believe wood is the best material for an artificial turf infill. The unique properties of wood make BrockFILL a safe and sustainable replacement for crumb rubber infill. 

Still have questions about the safety of BrockFILL? Visit out FAQ page or contact a Brock representative.

BrockFILL in Georgia – Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’

BrockFILL in Georgia – Macon-Bibb using ‘latest and greatest technology’

The student-athletes in Bibb County will see the “latest and greatest technology” to hit the artificial turf market when the gates open at the Ed Defoe Sports Complex later this year. 

“We chose the turf, but what we did with that was we put a pad underneath there,” Athletic Director Barney Hester said. “It is called a Brock Pad. On the football field we are using a new product that Brock has just come out with called Brockfill.”

The Bibb County artificial turf fields will be one of the first installations of Brock’s innovative infill, BrockFILL.  The system relies on Brock PowerBase/YSR to provide impact absorption for heavy falls and also to provide a consistent playing surface for the athletes.  When combined with the non-resilient BrockFILL artificial turf infill, the system more closely mimics a great natural grass field than any other system.

“When you are dealing with turf it is a somewhat more expensive but I don’t think you can take a lesser product,” Hester said. “You always have to look at the dollars and cents, but if you are going to spend, then you have to spend on safety over aesthetics.”

It means a lot to the Brock employees that a project in Georgia is one of the first to get the full BrockFILL-Brock PowerBase/YSR system.  The state has provided Brock with incredible access to the abundant, natural resource used to make BrockFILL and the student-athletes within Bibb County may have friends and relatives working in the forestry industry the company depends upon.

“We could not be more proud to be working with the administration at Bibb County to help provide a safe, high performance playing environment for their student-athletes,” said Ronnie Pascale, Regional Vice President at Brock. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – making sure these kids have the best experience possible without worrying about their safety.”

The field will also contribute directly to the Georgia economy because BrockFILL is sourced from sustainable tree farming in the southern U.S. and manufactured in the state.

“Sustainability is an incredibly important moral obligation for everything we do at Brock,” said Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA. “Georgia is a pioneer in sustainable tree farming for huge industries like paper and biofuels. Now the state is the source for an abundant organic, artificial turf infill that will change the face of the industry. ”

The Brock PowerBase/YSR artificial turf system is also sourced and made in America.  Brock’s PowerBase shock pads are the only shock pad systems available to receive Cradle to Cradle Environmental Certification. This means the products will never end up in a landfill. The pad is re-used over and over as the turf is replaced. But if a field is ever replaced with a building or parking lot, the shock pad is retrieved, sent back to the factory, washed and remolded to make a brand new pad.  BrockFILL also has an environmentally sustainable end of life plan. When the turf needs to be replaced the BrockFILL artificial turf infill is used as a highly effective organic soil amendment for natural turf right on the same campus.

The BrockFILL-Brock PowerBase/YSR system is also one of the highest performing systems in regards to heat, durability, abrasion from sliding, and impact absorption.  To learn more about the performance of these systems visit the BrockFILL and PowerBase/YSR pages. 

Why Shock Pads? 7 reasons why you should always include a shock pad in your artificial turf system

Why Shock Pads? 7 reasons why you should always include a shock pad in your artificial turf system

Informed buyers are getting out of the Stone Age and into the Technology Age. Laying carpet over stone or concrete may have been considered OK ten years ago, but today systems have evolved to provide better drainage, greater safety, greater longevity, and more environmental solutions to a project. There are many reasons why placing a Shock Pad under the turf is now the fastest growing trend in the industry for synthetic turf sports fields:
  • Concussions are front-page news
    • Players, parents, coaches, and fans are now all aware of the dangers for mental health due to contact sports. With 1-in-5 concussions happening from players’ heads hitting the turf it’s important to make sure you have the safest system.
  • Turf lasts longer over a shock pad.
    • Over the last three decades, pitches with no shock pad have been proven to wear out quicker than those with shock pads, as the pad primarily protects the underneath of the surface from the abrasion caused by a hard surface such as stone or asphalt. A pad also reduces the risk of compaction, which again accelerates damage to the fibres and backing.
  • Players prefer turf over a shock pad 
    • Players surveys consistently show that turf directly over stone is the least preferred system and shock pads are preferred.
  • Changing performance and safety standards
    • Passing GMax is not good enough anymore. Not complying with new safety standards that include Head Injury Criterion (HIC) can open field owners up to liability issues after the field is installed. 
  • Lack of Maintenance Resources
    • Most fields do not receive the TLC they need. Without a shock pad, infill displaces and your field may firm up and become a dangerous playing environment.
  • Shock Pad systems save money
    • A quality shock pad is a one time investment and does not have to be replaced when your turf is. And if designed properly, will reduce costs every time you replace your field. A nice legacy to leave! 
  • Newer durable fibers allow for shorter pile heights
    • Thatch zones and monofilament fibers provide enhanced durability for your field, so you don’t need as much infill and can choose a lower pile height, faster surface.

Building your field with a shock pad future proofs your investment and provides the safest playing environment for your athletes and children.

BrockFILL Durability – Why Wood is Good!

BrockFILL Durability – Why Wood is Good!

Trees are some of the most steadfast natural structures in the world; owing to their particularly strong and durable cell walls they are able to withstand extraordinary stresses in the natural environment. It’s this characteristic that makes wood a natural choice for so many current applications and for the development of BrockFILL. There aren’t any additives or modifications that make BrockFILL more durable, it’s just wood doing what it does best. 

Once Brock determined that wood was a promising candidate for infill development, laboratory testing became the logical next step. Effective product development requires rigorous testing, and for our infill, durability is of chief concern. Largely, infill durability is measured through particle size analysis. Particle breakdown is currently the best measure of particle durability and analyzing particle size distributions is the best way to characterize that change. ASTM has not currently set forth a standard for testing infill durability, so much of the testing results are proprietary. Primarily, this testing is performed with the Lisport Classic machine which is designed to simulate turf wear in the highest traffic zones of an artificial turf field. By evaluating the infill from these test samples, Brock can assess the wear BrockFILL would experience under these same circumstances.

Figure 1. Comparison of BrockFILL and SBR particle size.

In order to simulate turf wear, the Lisport machine uses a pair of large weighted cylinders which roll over and shear the test sample. The cylinders have cleats protruding from their surfaces and are connected using gears and a chain. In the same way a bicycle’s pedals drive its rear wheel, the lead cleated cylinder rolls over the surface of the turf and causes the trailing roller to slip as it moves over the turf surface. This creates a shearing action similar to an athlete’s foot turning or accelerating through the turf fibers. As the rollers traverse the turf sample, the tray containing them translates perpendicular to the rollers, further increasing the shearing of the cleats through the turf.

After performing the requisite number of cycles on the plot sample, the infill is collected and evaluated for size and appearance. Size evaluation is reported as a particle size distribution. The figure below shows the results from independent lab testing of BrockFILL and compares them to crumb rubber without any wear testing.

Figure 2. Freeze-Thaw Particle Size Analysis

Additionally, we have been investigating the effects of freezing temperatures on infill to evaluate the seasonal effects of using a hydrophilic material as infill. BrockFILL readily absorbs water which helps it maintain comfortable playing temperatures even in the hottest environments, but it also means the absorbed water will sometimes be subject to freezing. Freezing water can cause significant damage to infrastructure, as we see every year on our roads; similar damage to BrockFILL would be unacceptable. The data shows no correlation among the number of freeze-thaw cycles; the conclusion from this is that BrockFILL is durable enough to withstand harsh weather conditions without reducing its efficacy. In addition to particle size analysis, visual characterization is a valuable tool for evaluating BrockFILL durability. The photos below show the results of visual analysis.

Figure 3 BrockFILL after 20,000 Lisport cycles

Figure 4. BrockFILL after 10 freeze-thaw cycles and 20,000 Lisport cycles

A rigorous testing schedule is critical to the effective development of a new product, and BrockFILL has undergone an intensive battery of tests. Durability is the one of the most important factor to a quality, reliable infill product; the properties of wood ensure that BrockFILL will withstand the abuse inherent to playing fields of all levels.

Elkhorn Area School District Turning Heads With New AstroTurf & Brock

Elkhorn Area School District Turning Heads With New AstroTurf & Brock

In an impressive display of planning, vision, and design, the Elkhorn Area School District as part of a referendum project, redeveloped their entire athletic facility including an indoor training center, tennis courts, new running track, stadium field and two new softball fields. The school chose AstroTurf to cover the four fields with premium synthetic turf systems.

The Elkhorn athletic campus has positioned themselves as a successful model for high schools looking to make significant athletic facility improvements.

Elkhorn leaned heavy on feedback from the community about the fields and the referendum vote included a stipulation to not use SBR rubber in the stadium and indoor facility fields. These are actually the first field in Wisconsin to use natural infill for its synthetic turf field. Elkhorn is also one of only a few schools in Wisconsin that have an indoor training field.

“I would say that the new AstroTurf fields have allowed us far greater opportunities to practice and play than what we have had in the past. We are able to structure our practices with certainty that we are going to be able to have a safe surface to play on. It has also allowed our community youth groups to have greater opportunities to practice,” said Elkhorn Athletic Director Daniel Kiel.

The fields themselves are top of the line. For the indoor and stadium fields, Elkhorn installed an AstroTurf DT-32 system over a Brock Powerbase shock pad. The softball fields now have infields made of the AstroTurf RootZone Diamond-I RBI turf system. These systems are perfect for the durability and performance that will be required by the Elkhorn athletes and the heavy use that these fields will get throughout the year.

Companies Consider Climate Change

Companies Consider Climate Change

The latest Brock product to hit the market, BrockFILL, is also on its way to Cradle-to-Cradle certification. It was crucial that our performance infill for athletes, not only be durable, have low abrasion, and achieve quality traction, but also be organic and not contribute to landfills or water pollution.  BrockFILL has a clear end-of-life plan which is illustrated in the graphic below.  You can also read more on BrockFILL’s environmental sustainability in the article: Sourcing + Sustainability Matter.

ASU Opens Bro & Blegen Agility Field Featuring PowerBase/PRO

ASU Opens Bro & Blegen Agility Field Featuring PowerBase/PRO

“On February 25, Sun Devil Athletics unveiled the new Bro & Blegen Agility Field on the north side of Sun Devil Stadium.

Through generous donations led by Betsy & Kent Bro and Mary & Jay Blegen, as well as Linda and Bart Wear, the new artificial turf field, which measures 53 yards wide by 35 yards long, provides an efficient solution for the football team to perform walk-throughs and agility training throughout the year.

‘Our goal is to provide our student-athletes with the top facilities and experiences possible,’ said Gabe Cagwin, Sun Devil Athletics’ Chief Business Development Officer. ‘This agility field was important to Ray Anderson and head coach Herm Edwards, and we’re extremely fortunate to have passionate supporters like the Bro, Blegen and Wear families to help make this vision a reality.'” (ASU Press Release)

This facility is the latest in a series of upgrades for the Sun Devils, following the creation of a Student-Athlete Facility and a renovation to Sun Devil Stadium. The new agility field features Shaw Sports Turf with Geofill over Brock PowerBase/PRO. Brock’s top-tier PowerBase/PRO is the only performance base system on the market specifically engineered for elite athletes, and its unique characteristics mimic a pristine natural grass field.

Plant-Based Infills Gain Traction in Turf Market – Athletic Business Feature

Plant-Based Infills Gain Traction in Turf Market – Athletic Business Feature

Athletic Business ran a great article on the influx of new organic infill alternatives to crumb rubber.  This growing trend towards embracing solutions for better infills could potentially revolutionize the way turf systems are designed.  BrockFILL was featured prominently as a great new product in this category: 

The newest natural infill product to hit the market with claims that it tackles all of those concerns comes from Brock USA, a company heretofore best known for its contributions to synthetic turf safety and performance in the form of underlying shock pads. BrockFill is an engineered wood particle infill that the company says outperforms other artificial turf infills during rigorous durability, longevity, performance, abrasion and safety testing. Moreover, Brock claims independent research shows its wood infill provides better traction, less splash, truer ball bounce and a more natural feel to synthetic turf fields, while preventing the scorching hot temperatures caused by crumb rubber infill.

BrockFill — which Brock USA CEO Dan Sawyer calls “an elegant solution to a 25-year-old problem” — is sourced and made in the USA from sustainable tree farms that grow for the construction, paper, biofuels and animal bedding markets. There is zero waste in the manufacturing process and no disposal hazards at the end of the artificial turf field’s life. 

Infill’s importance within the field specification process is beginning to sink in with consumers. “A lot of field owners are starting with, ‘What infill do I need? I want to start with the infill first and figure out which infill is going to fit exactly what I’m looking for, and then I’ll build the rest of the system around that,’ ” Coleman says.

BrockFILL “Brings New Life” to Ed Defore Sports Complex

BrockFILL “Brings New Life” to Ed Defore Sports Complex

After reading research, field visits, and investigation, Macon-Bibb County made the decision to create a safer, higher performing playing environment for their student athletes. Ed Defore sports complex was scheduled to have two fields renovated this spring and chose Brock PowerBase/YSR shock pad systems to go under their AstroTurf 3D3 Blend HD turf system with rootzone for both. The timing was prophetic since BrockFILL, a new advanced organic infill, was being manufactured just down the road in southern GA. This advancement in artificial turf technology significantly cools the field, is non-resilient – making it faster and more natural to play on, and is environmentally friendly.

“Heat here is crazy, especially in the months here that we play football, so that was a huge factor for us,” Hester said. “With the technology that’s out there now you have to think safety before you think anything else. I felt that once we chose Brock(FILL), it was a no brainer.” 

The combination of BrockFILL, the PowerBase/YSR shock pad system, and AstroTurf’s high-density, low pile height turf create a firm, fast surface for the athletes.  This was an important factor for the West Side Seminole coaching staff.

“You can get out of cuts quicker. The wide receivers the running backs, the line backers, those kids are explosive kids, so they try to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. This type of surface helps that because it’s not as bouncy as the rubber beads,” said Head Football Coach “Spoon” Risper. “You want a fast surface. The skilled athletes love it, and even the linemen these days, they love a fast turf. That’s one of the main things you’re looking for in playing on turf.”

Ed Defore complex has two sports fields adjacent from one another. The first to be installed was the soccer field. This system utilized a crumb rubber/sand infill with a zeolite top dressing to help with cooling. The district’s soccer season happens in the spring time when temperatures do not reach the dangerous levels found in the late summer, fall when football is played. Heat wasn’t as big of a concern for the soccer field, according to Hester, but the impact attenuation was a major concern for both fields. That’s why the district went with the PowerBase/YSR shock pad system for both fields.

“It’s a great peace of mind knowing that shock pad is underneath there,” said Risper. “Of course you can’t prevent all concussions, but this is a huge step in helping to prevent concussions.”

The new fields at Ed Defore complex were designed by Don Carter at Carter Engineering Group, Inc. With over 35 years experience and over 200 fields installed, Carter knew what was important for the district beyond creating a safe playing environment.  He was concerned with drainage and maintenance for the fields.

“In the field we work in, it’s a lot of publicly funded schools and they don’t have a lot of maintenance staff or they’re stretched for other duties and they might not have the experience and background to properly maintain a turf field,” Carter said. “And  drainage is important for playability and longevity of a field.”

Drainage was also a factor for Hester and the decision-making team behind both fields. “With the design of the drainage and the design of the pad, we wanted something where if we had a torrential downpour, we could get the water off the field and play,” Hester stated.

Carter was confident in the systems drainage capabilities because of the fields he had designed with the Brock PowerBase/YSR drainage system the previous year. “The system has been tested here. Last year we had some record rainfalls and the fields we have here didn’t see any problems at all,” said Carter.

The unique design of the sports complex, having one field utilize a more traditional crumb rubber system and the second field installing BrockFILL, poses a great case study to monitor temperature reduction for organic crumb rubber replacements. “We’re really hoping for significant differences in temperature, maybe 30 degrees or more,” said Carter.

The excitement is palpable now that the fields are in place and ready for the athletes to strap on their cleats and start playing. Even as the fields were being built, Coach Risper and his players would sit atop the bleachers and just look at the field.

“We just look at it because it’s just so beautiful. It just brings this whole stadium back to life. We’re really pumped about it,” said Risper. “I just have to get out on this field because it’s been such a long time coming for our community.”

Hatchlings hold up Grand Opening for Brock Field – Rio Americano High School

Hatchlings hold up Grand Opening for Brock Field – Rio Americano High School

A story that has been heartwarming for some, frustrating for others, began earlier this month when the Rio Americano High School’s lacrosse team was getting ready to practice on their new “Field of Dreams.” Unfortunately for the eager athletes, the construction crew found a nest of four Killdeer eggs nestled in one of the end zones. Due to the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the school had to wait in anticipation for the little chicks to hatch.

The FieldTurf field designed for football, soccer, and lacrosse features Brock PowerBase/YSR and their organic infill, Purefill, making it one of the most advanced systems installed in the nation. The complex also features a brand new running track, shot put and discus throwing areas and sprinting and long-jump alleys.  With all the excitement that was surrounding the grand opening on April 2nd, it was undoubtedly disappointing to see the killdeer mama bird skipping toward her eggs.

“The bird showed up, and we’ll just let it do it’s thing and then we’ll use the field when we can,” Ginter told the Sacramento Bee.

The long wait finally ended last week Wednesday and the student athletes are scheduled to take to the field next week.  Fortunately for the team, the bird’s migratory patterns predict that they will be on their way soon and will likely not return.

Adidas Joins Growing List of Companies Creating No-Waste Products

Adidas recently unveiled their 100% recyclable shoe called the Futurecraft Loop after more than 6 years of research and development. This is a great advancement from our friends in the sports manufacturing industry.  We hope many more companies follow Adidas and Brock’s commitment to closed-loop recycling efforts.

The Futurecraft Loop joins a line of other Adidas Futurecraft products, including a shoe made from ocean waste, that have reportedly net $1 billion. However, the Futurecraft products aren’t initially designed to be highly profitable. Instead, they are “statements of intent,” that allow Adidas designers to push footwear forward.

The most challenging part of creating the Futurecraft Loop was designing a shoe for a circular life cycle. Recycling shoes has been a challenge for footwear manufactures, since they are typically made of many different materials that can be difficult to separate. To solve this problem, the Loop is made from a single material, thermoplastic polyurethane. When the original shoes are worn out, they will be given back to Adidas, ground up into pellets, melted down, and used to create a brand new pair. 

This process is similar to the Cradle-to-Cradle certification, where the concept of waste is completely eliminated. Brock PowerBase is the first shock pad in the industry to be certified Cradle-to-Cradle. Much like the Adidas Futurecraft Loop designers, Brock engineers stress that when it comes to throwing things away, there is no real “away.” Instead of being sent to a landfill, Brock PowerBase shock pads are sent back to the factory, processed, cleaned, ground into pellets, and reused to make new shock pads. 

Improving athletic performance doesn’t have to come at a cost to the environment. Taking ownership of for the afterlife of products is starting to become a trend in the athletic industry. Brock USA, Adidas, and others are already leading the way. This type of engineering will ensure sports are good for players, fans, and the planet. 

Research & Logic Concludes: Shock Pads = Safer Fields

Infilled artificial turf was a great step forward in our attempts to replicate natural grass, but that innovation is already 25+ years old and science has pressed onwards.  The turf industry has created thatched systems, developed new infills, weighed the benefits of slit-film and monofilament turf styles, and one of the most important innovations came a decade after rubber/sand infill over stone systems – the innovations in shock pad technology. But why were shock pads necessary if the infilled systems provide impact attenuation and adequate cleat grip?  The simple answer is:  Infill is not enough.

  • Infill compacts over time – Depending on infill alone to provide cushion for falls is risky because infill inevitably compacts and becomes firm over time.
  • Infill migrates –You see the infill splash every time an athlete kicks a ball or slides onto the turf. Those instances move the infill around the field and in as quick as one half of gameplay, the infill in high traffic areas is greatly depleted. These regions where most of the action takes place are comparable to playing on the compacted stone below.
  • Lack of maintenance –Artificial turf was sold by some as “maintenance free,” and although the myth has been debunked by all ethical industry professionals, it is still a great challenge for school districts and municipalities to keep up with the proper maintenance. An investigative story found 85% of north Texas fields did not meet safety requirements due to lack of maintenance.
  • “Tuning” systems for performance – By removing the safety component from the infill, you allow yourself to tune the entire system to provide a firmer, faster surface to run on while also providing a safe surface for impacts.
  • More infill = soft surfaces – Surface hardness and impact attenuation run inversely to one another. This is a major reason why trying to achieve both through crumb rubber is an impossibility.  The more rubber you add, the softer the surface = more lower extremity injuries.  The less rubber you include, the harder the surface = more impact injuries. Only by utilizing the latest generation (Gen 4) systems that include a quality shock pad for impact attenuation can you achieve a firm, safe surface.
  • Turf lasts longer over a shock pad – Fields with no shock pad have been proven to wear out quicker than those with shock pads, as the pad primarily protects the turf backing from the abrasion caused by a hard surface such as stone or asphalt.

 

Testing Labs and Universities Recommend Shock Pads, Athletes prefer fields with shock pads 

The shortcomings of crumb-rubber-over-stone systems led to a lot of testing and research into why shock pads make artificial turf systems perform better and reduce the risk of injury for athletes.  It all started with benchmarking natural grass and identifying what the goal was for artificial turf in regards to safety and performance. This research was conducted extensively utilizing 16 grass/soil variations and then averaging the results to find where a great natural grass lands according to approved test methods. What the scientists found when they compared those results to the various turf systems (rubber/sand over stone, high pile heights, low pile heights, and various shock pad systems) was the systems with shock pads were much closer to the results of the natural grass fields. The shock pad systems also added to the consistency of the surfaces and improved stability under foot when compared to rubber/sand over stone, according to a biomechanics study utilizing force plates and live athletes. 

With the benchmark of natural grass in mind, testing labs like Sportslabs and labosport, the leading field testing agencies in the world, began collecting data on hundreds of fields to build databases to analyze the performance of various systems in order to assist purchasers. One blind study by Sportslabs found athletes overwhelmingly prefer turf with a shock pad when compared to turf without shock pads without knowing which type they’re playing on. The athletes scored the fields on a number of factors including: ball roll, firmness, impact absorption, consistency, and more.  The study has directly led to every artificial turf field in professional soccer clubs in Scotland installing shock pads on all 3G facilities.  Shouldn’t the goal of a playing field be to give the athletes what they prefer? 

 

Governing Sports Bodies Encourage Including Shock Pads

These findings have led the governing bodies for World Rugby, FIFA, and International Field Hockey (FIH) to establish guidelines for artificial turf systems that only shock pad systems can achieve and maintain. By publishing the One Turf Concept and working on the ASTM F3146-18 standard, the facilitators of these sports organizations sent a message to the industry that the latest shock pad systems are where the industry needs to move. 

Players’ safety is these organizations number one priority and even the NFL has begun to see the light in regards to surface safety. In 2019, the NFL published a study indicating a higher rate of lower leg injuries on artificial turf than on natural grass. So benchmarking natural grass performance is tantamount to a quality artificial surface. The winner of the NFL’s 2015 Head Health Challenge received over a million dollars to focus on the development of a new shock pad for artificial turf.  Unfortunately, that pad has not made it to the marketplace, but it hasn’t stopped NFL teams from investing in shock pad technologies.  Their players spend most of their time on the practice fields, which has led to the Patriots, 49’ers, Eagles, Cardinals, Bears, Colts, Texans, and Cowboys installing Brock PowerBase/PRO.  The NFL is now taking concussion risk prevention seriously and have heeded the recommendations of the Concussion Legacy Foundation for including shock pads after the publication of a white paper that found more than 1 in 5 concussions occur from head to surface impacts. The CLF has also included “Playing Area and Surfaces” in their Concussion Checklist as a resource for parents to know how safe the fields are where their children are playing.

 

Turf Companies Have Embraced Shock Pads

The number one turf manufacturer in the United States, Fieldturf, the company that also purchases more Brock shock pads than almost any other turf brand, has invested heavily in shock pad variations over the last few years.  In fact they recently purchased a small pad company in Canada. Their attempts at reaching the performance of Brock shock pads are a great example of how difficult it is to do what Brock has accomplished in engineering their pads.

Not all shock pads are created equal.  Simply installing any shock pad system will not ensure added safety or performance.  In fact, by including lower tier shock pads you can actually make your field too soft to run on and still not hit the impact results found in natural grass. There are many examples where owners decided to install a cheaper shock pad and were forced to rip out the entire system when the turf came up for replacement. Do your homework and ask specifically what pads were installed when confronted by shock pad naysayers.

Fieldturf is not the only turf company to embrace shock pads. Shaw Sports Turf has declared the next evolution of turf to be one that relies on non-resilient organic infills and high performance shock pads. Also, Astroturf was the first major turf organization to install Brock’s organic BrockFILL solution combined with Brock PowerBase/YSR and are among the top purchasers of Brock shock pad systems.  Other turf manufacturers who have embraced shock pad technology include Hellas Construction, Greenfields, ACT Global Group, Sprinturf, and many others.  The shock pad industry as a whole has seen a growing percentage of fields installed in the U.S. and now accounts for nearly 50% of the new fields being installed every year.

Only One “Study” contradicts entire research community

The only pushback to the science of these next generation artificial turf systems comes from one researcher and his ongoing “study” on how infill weights correlate to injury rates.  The troubling side of his research comes from how its results factor into the marketing strategy for the turf company which provided its sole source of funding.  As of 2017, the professor has received over $1,000,000 from that turf manufacturer, and the company is mentioned over 50 times in his resume. It just so happens, this company wishes to push the narrative that low-density turf with high amounts of infill create a better playing environment. In other words, the study promotes the system they sell. 

Throwing a few high percentage statistics on a marketing piece without any data behind it is not research. The damage of this pay-to-play “science” comes in how it affects the athletes themselves and stalls progress in achieving ideal playing environments. The innovations in sports surfaces cannot be delayed and deferred because every new field installed without consideration of the latest technologies and science available can have lasting effects.

When presented with data from a questionable source it’s important to find external sources. Had the general public relied solely on the “studies” provided by Big Tobacco, we would all be smoking and training for our marathons with the belief our lungs were getting stronger. It takes inquisitive minds and people willing to see through propaganda to continue making the environments our children and athletes play as safe as possible.

Don’t take our word for it

If you would like to speak directly with any research organizations who specialize in artificial turf science, please reach out to them directly.  It’s not Brock who is moving the industry forward in regards to shock pads, it is the scientific community and educated community leaders who value child and athlete safety.

  • University of Tennessee – Turfgrass Center
  • Concussion Legacy Foundation
  • Sportslabs 
  • Labosport
  • North Carolina State University – leading researcher on organic infills
  • Colorado State University
  • Boston University

Other leading universities with athlete research centers using shock pads to protect their student athletes:

  • Harvard
  • Stanford
  • Dartmouth
  • University of North Carolina
  • Colorado University – Boulder
  • University of Nevada – Las Vegas 
  • Northwestern University
  • University of California – Los Angeles
  • Cornell 
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of San Francisco
  • Missou
  • and many more…
Check out all the other universities, municipalities, school districts and professional facilities trust our shock pad systems to protect their athletes.

 

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