Synthetic turf guidelines address misconceptions on maintenance

A comprehensive set of guidelines on the maintenance of artificial turf has been published following research from Cranfield University.

Dr Iain James-Cranfield Uni lecturer in sports surface engineering - photo: HW
Dr Iain James-Cranfield Uni lecturer in sports surface engineering - photo: HW

Part-funded by the Institute of Groundsmanship to meet demand from members having to maintain an increasing number of synthetic pitches, the research and guidelines were launched this week  at IoG Saltex.

Cranfield University’s lecturer in sports surface engineering Dr Iain James has been working on the £100,000 research, which was also part-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Dr James said during the four-year task he and research student Dr Andy McLeod, now working as a consultant at Total Turf Solutions, surveyed grounds staff and pitches and developed techniques for assessing the maintenance needs of artificial turf.

“One of our preconceptions was that people would think synthetic turf surfaces are maintenance-free but we actually found that grounds staff realise they do need to do maintenance but aren’t sure how to do it,” explained Dr James.

The research looked at second generation sand-filled surfaces and has resulted in guidelines that grounds staff can follow to improve endurance and quality of the pitch.

The main problems include waterlogging due to contaminant build-up in the infill material and the incorrect amount of infill.

“It is not just aimed at grounds staff but also managers and buyers of synthetic surfaces,” added Dr James.

The guidelines include regular maintenance on a 10:1 ratio of use to maintenance, assuming a typical yearly use of 2,000 hours.

Dr James explained that if the pitch is used more often, the maintenance requirements could be scaled up, but not down if the use is lower: “That is because the natural build-up of contaminants still takes place.”

The guidelines extend from every one to two days the pitch should be swept and litter bins emptied to every five to 10 years the turf infill material should be replaced.

“Plan to maintain from day one,” he added.

“Keep on top of the pitch so you know exactly what is changing and when.”

The guidelines will be available from the IoG. 

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