Monitoring and improving a stadium field per square metre has finally become reality. The RHENAC Sports LED CLS R-BL-1750, developed by RHENAC GreenTec AG, integrates various technologies that can deliver water, light, nutrients, heat and oxygen exactly as needed and at the time of the day or in the quantity it is most-needed.
Although it has been common knowledge for many years that grass requires water, oxygen and light to remain in good condition, the science behind exactly how much, at what moment and the specs of the doses to be given is relatively new. “The introduction of CLS technology made it clear that light itself offers many variables that are important to consider when light is supplemented to a grass pitch,” says Horst Theisen of RHENAC Sports LED. After studying grass needs for over 8 years, together with the University of Munich, the German company succeeded in developing the technology to deliver accordingly. Its ability to deliver the complete light spectrum has seen RHENAC Sports LED become a game changer in maintaining and improving stadium field conditions. “The complete light spectrum ranges from ultraviolet light all the way to infrared light. In our study with the University of Munich, we established that grass prefers different light spectrums and qualities in the course of a day” he explains. As studies have shown different light spectrums and qualities have a great impact on plant growth, RHENAC Sports LED has gone to great lengths to finetune the technology.
The accuracy of the RHENAC Sports LED CLS technology has made it possible to grow grass even in places or environments that don’t experience any daylight whatsoever. This has convinced RHENAC Sports LED that it can grow grass in any stadium, including those for which the design is not conducive to natural grass growth, or fully enclosed sports venues for which natural grass would normally not be considered as a surface, Theisen points out. “Research has shown that grass plants exposed to the RHENAC Sports LED complete light spectrum technology experienced a significant increase in branching,” he explains to state his case.
RHENAC Sports LED has converted the knowledge and technology into four different versions of its CLS grass grow technology. “It ranges from the R-ML-30 unit for use in the goal mouth area to the R-ML-100 and R-ML-200 units that can cover up to half a field to our top of the range R-BL-1750 unit.” The latter is a fully automated system that uses data from various sources to automate and finetune the care the grass is given. “Each rig is fitted with different sensors that use GPS coordinates to establish exactly where in the world the rig is positioned. In addition, these sensors help determining sunrise and sunset, two moments that will determine the colour of light and light intensity the grass needs. Based on the input of these sensors the lighting program kicks in or finishes.”
Fully automated field care
Earlier this year, RHENAC Sports LED commissioned its first R-BL-1750 for the German football league. “Here, the technology has been fitted on two steel trusses that span the entire width of the field,” Theisen continues. The foldable design of the trusses makes it possible to store them in a storage area underneath the stand or in a recess at the far end of the field. “.” The relatively limited requirements for the storage area can easily be considered when designing a new stadium. They also allow for easy retrofitting.
The R-BL-1750 integrates various technologies and resources. “In addition to CLS grass grow technology, we also offer irrigation and heating technology. Big fans that can be placed next to the field have also been integrated into the technology. Based on the parameters the management system receives from various sources, including a weather station, the management system activates the various technologies and manages the intensity of their contributions.” Each truss is divided into ten sections. “Each section can be programmed individually.” This allows RHENAC Sports LED to use the same technology to run different programs for different sections on the field simultaneously. As the technology deploys and operates automatically, the field manager can reduce the time spent on the stadium field and focus on different areas of interest.
Computerising the pitch
Theisen highlights that the ability to deliver the complete light spectrum enables RHENAC Sports LED many more opportunities to improve the grass condition. “The general plant health, the density of the sward, root development, shear strength of the playing field, as well as its susceptibility for diseases, or absence thereof, are all determined by the availability of light and light quality.” The next step is to integrate even more and different technologies to determine the exact settings to improve certain parameters. “Grass is very delicate, and parameters like its pH-level, its acidity level or the heat stress it possibly experiences also influence its condition. We are currently busy aligning the communication between the sensors that report on these conditions with the software that manages the grass care technology.”
Light, light intensity and light colour are all parameters that, combined with temperature control, irrigation and oxygen, determine the quality of a stadium pitch. After having studied the needs of grass for many years, RHENAC Sports LED has mastered translating these needs into settings of modern technology that can help supplement or even grow grass, no matter the natural conditions.