University of California, Davis (UC Davis) built a state-of-the-art, USA Field Hockey-certified facility for their Aggies women’s program. The field utilizes Hunter’s STK-6V system to wet and prepare the field for play.
The International Hockey Federation made artificial pitches mandatory in the 1970s. All dedicated field hockey pitches have strict requirements for turf height and friction in order to maintain consistent ball-roll and the preferred action off the hockey stick. Before play and during halftime, the field is wetted to maintain playability. NCAA field hockey rules stipulate wetting of the field during the 10 minute halftime without delaying play. Wetting the 0.4+ hectare field within this short watering window requires long-range sprinklers with high precipitation rates and consistent coverage. These sprinklers must always be off the playing surface and preferably out of sight when not in use. Matt Forrest, the landscape and grounds supervisor at UC Davis, assisted with developing the project requirements for watering the new field, he said, “Above ground systems and mobile water cannons were not acceptable options for our field. Additionally, providing a green infrastructure solution for water retention was required in order to collect runoff from the field in a responsible manner.”
Hunter’s ST System in the enhanced STK-6V configuration was chosen by Beals Alliance as the preferred irrigation solution to accommodate the strict requirements of the UC Davis field hockey facility. “From day one, we were looking for a complete system that was capable of handling the rigorous field hockey requirements, one that was easy for the selected contractor to install, and more importantly a solution that was easy for the end user to manage and maintain. The ST System was a great fit for the project as it met and exceeded all three of these requirements,” said Chris Chisam, a landscape architect at Beals Alliance.
The STK-6V kit was designed for contractor-friendly installation. The shorter vault design provides a connection to the mainline at 60–75 cm, a manageable installation depth that requires less digging than other options. In addition, the rotor hangs from an adjustable bracket within the vault for precise adjustments to grade for a safe playing surface.
With total top access to all components, the STK-6V kit makes maintenance simple while keeping the playing surface intact. The vault contains everything: a gear-driven long-range rotor assembly, drain valve, isolation valve, and point of connection. “The expansive campus at UC Davis makes it a necessity to have quick and easy access for our maintenance crews,” said Matt Forrest. “The total top serviceability of the STK-6V was a key factor in our selection of the Hunter system.” The turf itself has extensive drainage capabilities and there is a network of drainage piping below the field that terminates in the bioswale for natural water treatment before reentering the water table.
This advanced facility now allows the Aggies to compete on their home field instead of having to host their games at other California schools, and the new pitch couldn’t have come at a better time, as the field hockey Aggies just joined the America East Conference as an associate member. According to Aggies Field Hockey Coach Tiffany Huisman, "the field itself is helping set the tone and bringing pride back into the program and into the players." The STK-6V kit is the engineered synthetic turf irrigation solution that is easy to specify, easy to install, and easy to maintain for elite field hockey programs.