The Johan Cruijff ArenA and the KNVB, the Royal Dutch Football Association, are investigating whether the high-tech system that monitors the turf of the ArenA is suitable to serve as a basis for other clubs in Dutch professional football. The KNVB has already deployed the monitoring system on the training fields of the Dutch national team in Zeist.
The smart turf monitoring system tested is unique in the world. With data produced by special sensors in the turf and measurements taken by the grass team, the system monitors the health and quality of the pitch 24/7. A dashboard shows the experts exactly when the turf needs feeding, light or water.
In collaboration with the Wageningen University & Research, the KNVB wants to see if the monitoring system can help professional football clubs optimize their pitches. The data can even be used to predict the state of the pitch in a week’s time. The system saves on costs and prevents waste of resources. It ensures that not too much water, fertilizer or light is used and requires few maintenance hours.
The research is funded partly by a subsidy from the program Sportinnovator program, set up by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The goal of Sportinnovator is to increase the efficiency of knowledge and innovation in sport. The KNVB and the Johan Cruijff ArenA are doing this together through the collaboration between the two organizations in the field of innovation. Together they want to make further improvements to quality and the visitor experience in stadiums such as the ArenA.
Johan Cruijff ArenA pitch
Underneath the ArenA pitch are 15 sensors that monitor the quality of the soil on which the grass grows. One weather station on the field and four weather stations on the roof keep track of climate conditions. Mounted on the roof and on the field, light sensors establish whether the turf is getting sufficient light. Each time the pitch is mown, scanners measure growth activity, including the number of blades of grass on the surface, and identify damaged spots. The turf can be checked 24 hours a day via a webcam.
All data derived from the sensors and the grass team measurements get processed for display in a dashboard. The dashboard monitors the health of the pitch and can indicate when it is necessary to maintain or improve grass quality. The dashboard tracks the state of the field in real time. The grass team maintains the pitch of the Johan Cruijff ArenA seven days a week. Using the dashboard, they can set ideal climate conditions for the grass. Measurements include temperature, humidity and air flow in the stadium to determine whether the grass can grow well.