The maintenance of a hybrid pitch is similar to that of a natural grass surface and will vary at different sites, with ‘closed’ stadia and ‘open’ training grounds having differing needs. That said, grounds managers must always consider a number of factors, such as the availability of natural light, air movement, climatic/micro-climate conditions and frequency of use. Annual renovation and professional pitch consultancy are also mandatory if a stable pitch quality is to be maintained.
Wind, air, light and temperature play a major role in grass development, and many innovative tools are available to strengthen grass growth factors and to sustain grass health throughout the year and in all climates:
- Soil/sub-air systems provide underground ventilation that manage the air/moisture ratio within the rootzone;
- Grow lights offer photosynthetic lighting and can be used with heating systems to provide the correct combination of temperature and light.
- Lighting rigs stimulate plant growth and improve surface quality and performance;
- Pitch covers protect and maintain the grass and allow the pitch temperature to be raised, to reduce the cost of using undersoil heating systems. In warmer climates, undersoil cooling systems prevent wilting and retard pitch dehydration;
- Mowing, aeration, scarifying/raking, irrigation, plant nutrition, disease and pest management are also important maintenance procedures to be carried out regularly.
To maintain pitch performance and to ensure the longevity of hybrid grass pitches, annual renovation is highly important. This includes the following:
- Remove all vegetation, including organic build-up and any thatch layer as well as undesirable plants;
- Create a clean and healthy growing environment for the grass;
- Aerate the soil profile;
- Ensure good drainage, surface levels and pitch playability;
- Tease the fibres up above the top dressing to ensure surface stability and optimum performance;
- Establish a healthy new grass sward.
Professional pitch monitoring
Continuous monitoring is essential to assess pitch condition and determine issues concerning maintenance, performance and playability. GrassMaster Solutions provides professional pitch consultants for such a task, and the company’s Solutions Team trains, guides and assists the people responsible for the pitch with the aim of maintaining a perfect pitch – anytime, anywhere.
Stable solution for Aviva Stadium
The Aviva Stadium in Dublin is a true multi-purpose venue, hosting international rugby and football, as well as music concerts, business events and conferences. Such a busy schedule demands a high-quality and durable pitch, and the stadium fulfills these requirements with its use of a GrassMaster hybrid surface – which not only provides four times more playing hours per year than a natural grass surface but is also proven to last for 15 years or more. Majella Smyth, the stadium’s grounds manager, says:
We changed to GrassMaster five years ago and the surface stability has been a saviour – for example, we had 67 scrums from November to December and I could sleep at night knowing that the surface would hold up!
GrassMaster Solutions is the hybrid grass division of Tarkett Sports. The stitched hybrid grass system GrassMaster is 100 per cent natural grass reinforced with 20 million in-house produced PP fibres. PlayMaster is a carpet-based hybrid technology that ensures instant playability.
SOURCE: The Groundsman Magazine.