Grow Lights give Safeco Field grass a boost

The head of the Dutch company that makes the grow lights that have been in use at Safeco Field since mid-March came to Seattle last week to check on how things are going, and he was impressed with what he saw.

Nico Van Vuuren, president of SGL, Stadium Grow Lighting, says he’s been keeping track of the progress in Seattle by computer from his office in The Netherlands. Two wireless sensors on the field send back detailed information on temperature, CO2, humidity and other indicators of the health of the grass. He also checks out the live webcam on a regular basis.

Two wireless sensors gather data on temperature, humidity, CO2 and other indicators of the health of the grass.

Jeff Van Lierop, owner of Country Green, the Olympia turf farm that grows the Safeco Field sod, liked what he saw, too. “It makes me proud to know someone’s taking such good care” of the field.

Bob Christofferson, the Mariners head grounds keeper, says the lights have made a “huge difference.” Christofferson pronounces the field in mid-to-late June form in mid-May. He says the players and manager Eric Wedge have commented on the improvement. Because the grass is so lush and healthy “the balls don’t bounce, they roll” and Christofferson says Wedge is pleased that there aren’t as many bad hops.

Two smaller grow lights are spending some quality time in right field, which doesn’t get much direct sunlight because of the shadows of the ballpark.

Things are looking so good that Christofferson says he’s been fielding calls from the grounds keepers in Miami and Milwaukee. In fact, Van Vuuren arrived in Seattle after a stop in Miami to see if his lights can help get the grass growing at the Marlins new ballpark.

Now that the Mariners are on the road, and even though there’s been a stretch of sunny weather, Christofferson and his crew have brought the lights back out. They’re focusing on right field, which is tucked under the shadow of the roof and doesn’t get much sunlight, and the new infield sod, which is thriving, will also get some supplemental sun.

- RH

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