The data from the turf and its surroundings makes it possible to provide even better pitch maintenance. What’s more, historical data can be used to predict the condition of the turf in a week’s time. This is important, as the turf in the Johan Cruijff ArenA gets used relatively frequently. Ajax train and play on it and the Dutch national team’s matches are played on it.
The quality of the turf is of paramount importance. Nonetheless, the turf is also producing cost savings and preventing raw materials from being wasted. No excess water, food or light are used and it does not need as many working hours to maintain. Moreover, this hybrid turf only has to be replaced once a year.
Facts and figures high-tech turf
- Below the turf there are fifteen sensors monitoring it;
- A weather station on the pitch and four weather stations installed in the roof record the growth climate;
- Light sensors on the roof and on the pitch record whether the grass is getting enough light;
- The ArenA has a grass growing system featuring LED lighting. This is more sustainable, saving energy;
- Each time the grass is mown, a special mower produces a scan of the turf to measure the plant’s activity and record the number of blades of grass over a certain surface area and the location of damaged spots;
- A webcam enables 24-hour monitoring of the turf;
- A special grass team maintains the turf seven days a week. They take care of the feeding, watering, lighting, aerating, mowing and damage repair of the grass. In addition to data, other equipment helps them to achieve optimal turf. This includes a grip meter, which measures the turf’s stability to prevent slippage;
- The grass specialists draw on data to calculate the ideal climate conditions for the turf. Factors such as the temperature, humidity and air movement are measured in the stadium in order to ascertain whether the grass will be able to grow properly. On a cold winter’s day, for instance, this could mean that the ArenA’s doors and roof are kept shut and the grass is exposed to a lot of artificial light;
- Data indicates the light intensity in the stadium, recording exactly where and how much light is entering through the ArenA’s roof, thereby letting us know whether the turf lighting needs to be switched on;
- If the data indicates that it is too cold for the turf in the ArenA, then the doors and roof can be shut;
- The grass team might also decide to open or close the roof, add extra water and nutrients and/or switch the turf lighting on or off;
- The ArenA has had hybrid turf since 2016. This is specially cultivated turf comprising a mixture of 90% real grass and a small quantity of artificial grass. Adding artificial blades of grass to the real grass makes the turf extra strong, ensuring greater stability, grip, less damage and more rapid recovery. It also makes the turf more level. This means that the ArenA’s turf only has to be replaced once a year.