A GrassMaster Solutions Pitch Specialist generally makes three annual visits to the venue to:
- assess its condition
- determine pitch issues regarding maintenance and/or performance and playability (hardness or softness, irrigation, fertilising, grass cover and quality)
- discuss maintenance and training with the groundsman
The maintainance of a GrassMaster Solutions hybrid pitch system is very similar to that of a natural sports surface and will vary among different sites.
Enclosed sports stadiums and open training grounds, for example, have many different factors that will dictate the correct maintenance plan. Nonetheless, grounds managers must always consider:
- natural light availability
- air movement
- local climatic conditions
- site specific microclimates
- frequency of use
Pitch maintenance can be separated into the following categories including:
- scarifying/ raking
- plant nutrition
- disease and pest management
- end of season renovation
- inventory of machinery
The most frequent and probably most important maintenance process is mowing. The height of cut and frequency of mowing depend on:
- weather conditions
- condition of the surface
- playing conditions requested by team management
- frequency of use
Pedestrian rotary mowers are ideal for gathering up loose debris, particularly after pitch usage, and help to maintain surface hygiene and reduce thatch build-up by limiting the amount of organic material on the surface.
Pedestrian cylinder mowers are used for their scissor cutting action, which gives a clean cut to the blade of grass. This is important for presentation and plant health.
Ride on cylinder mowers should be sparingly used, due to their weight and the effects on the pitch, particularly through the winter months. However, they may be used when time management is crucial and used as a last option.
Aerating the profile has many benefits:
- Facilities water infiltration and surface drainage
- Enhances root growth and development by creating pore (air) space in the profile
- Allows new topdressing to bed into the existing profile
- improves surface levels and can increase the pitch seed and playabilty
Scarifying, raking or thinning out a dense sward through mechanical means is good practice when pitch conditions are optimal. This process allows new growth, stimulates plant health, and promotes surface hygiene by removing dead or decaying matter from the surface. Over-sowing the pitch 100 kg per hectare with the designated seed type is also a good practice.
Water is an important component of grass for photosynthesis and the transport of nutrients, among other functions. Plant health and the desired playing characteristics of the pitch are dependent on correct soil moisture levels.
A GrassMaster Solutions hybrid grass pitch requires an automatic system that delivers uniform water application across the entire playing surface, ensuring consistent moisture levels for optimal pitch performance and playability.
5. Plant nutrition
Plant nutrition is the application of compounds necessary for plant growth and metabolism and is normally applied in granular or liquid form.
That’s why carrying out regular Soil Nutrient Analysis Tests is of vital importance to define detailed plant and soil needs
6. Disease and pest management
Grass is susceptible to stress, which increases the chance of diseases caused by soil- and airborne pathogens and by insects.
Turf fungicides can be used in an integrated pitch management programme as both preventative and curative measures against disease. Pest control management can be achieved with Regionally approved insecticides
Good cultural practices in the management of the playing surface management are the best defense against decimating disease and infestation.
7. End of season renovation
End of season renovations are important to maintain platform performance for the coming season and to ensure the longevity of your GrassMaster Solutions hybrid grass pitches.
Renovation steps include:
- removing all vegetation, including organic build-up and any thatch layer present
- removing any undesirable plants
- creating a clean and healthy growing environment for the grass
- aerating the soil profile
- ensuring good drainage, surface levels, and pitch playability
- teasing fibres up above the sand to ensure surface stability and optimum performance
- establishing a healthy new grass sward
“WALT” factors (wind, air, light and temperature) play a major role in grass development and condition. Fortunately, many innovative tools have been developed that give pitch managers the means to strengthen required grass growth factors and sustain grass health throughout the year and in all climates.
Soil/sub-air systems provide underground sprinkling and ventilation that manage the air/moisture ratio within the root zone.
Grow lights provide photosynthetic lighting and are deployed in combination with pitch covers and/or heating systems to give the pitch the right combination of temperature and light. Lighting rigs are used to stimulate plant growth and to improve surface quality and performance.
Pitch covers are used to protect and maintain the grass; they also allow the pitch temperature to be raised to reduce the cost of using undersoil heating systems.
In colder climates a combination of pitch heating and pitch covers is used to protect the pitch. During colder months, pitch maintenance is focussed on stress management. Heating systems placed undersoil ensure 90 minutes of playing time without the pitch’s freezing during the game.
In warmer climates, undersoil cooling systems prevent wilting and retard dehydration of the pitch.
Research & Development, all the time
As good as GrassMaster Solutions' systems are, the company is always striving for the next level; that’s why the R&D has been ongoing since 1989, when the first hybrid grass system was invented, which has a patented installation method.
Proprietary fibre technology
The yarns used in all types of GrassMaster pitches are in-house developed and manufactured specifically for hybrid grass application. All this in cooperation with top level partners to create the optimal combination of subbase and fibre.
For almost 30 years GrassMaster Solutions has been knowledge sharing with most highly qualified groundsmen to optimize its hybrid grass systems for all kinds of grass-based sports, multifunctional venues, and other non-sport applications as diverse as dike reinforcements! GrassMaster Solutions is proud to have past, current, and pending patents on many of the machine and fibre technologies.
The first stitching machine used was specially designed and has evolved through several models:
- GEN 3 machine has fewer hydraulic movements, reduces cycle time 25%, and delivers more accurate yarn cutting and clamping
- GEN 4 is fully electric, even faster on processing speed, and uses a laser for machine alignment.
- GrassMaster Solutions' sod press technology allows to stitch on newly installed sods (patent pending).