Effect of Athletic Field Paint on Athletic Field Plant Species
As foot traffic increases and turf cover decreases, undesirable species become the predominant population. Weed encroachment in athletic fields is a common issue, especially if not managed properly. Little is known about how athletic field paint varies in coverage on these different plant species. A study using Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L., KBG), crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis L.), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale F.H. Wigg), and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) was conducted at Iowa State University to determine if repeated athletic field paint applications would affect plant species differently. Digital image analysis was used to determine if weed species have an effect on overall paint coverage on athletic fields compared to that of KBG. Percent green cover (PGC) differed by trial as well as plant species and rating date. Compared to all other plant species tested, KBG had lower PGC on nine of 12 ratings in 2019 and 10 of 12 ratings in 2020 after athletic field paint application. White clover (five ratings in 2019 and 10 in 2020) had higher PGC compared to KBG. A lower PGC results in a better athletic field paint application. Remaining carbon and paint material left after loss on ignition for above-ground plant material also show that white clover (2.7 g) was less than KBG (5.7 g), crabgrass (6.5 g), and dandelion (5.0 g) in 2019. Additionally, there was less soil organic matter present in both white clover (6.8 g) and dandelion (7.2 g) compared to KBG (8.8 g) and crabgrass (9.4). These results show that KBG and crabgrass will offer better coverage from athletic field paint than dandelion and white clover species. Thus, athletic fields should be limited to monostands of grass species. Future research on athletic field paint should investigate the environmental impact of increased athletic field painting applications.