• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
GrassMaster was the first hybrid pitch ever developed
GrassMaster was the first hybrid sports surface solution that was widely accepted as a reinforced natural grass surface. It was developed by Desso in 1987 when the Dutch FA and national Olympic Committee NOCNSF challenged the industry for grass sports surfaces to develop a surface that could handle a usage of more than 250 hours per annum. Synthetic turf surfaces were non-existent at the time. These days, a GrassMaster field can be used up to 600 hours per year, which is approximately four times the usage capacity a natural grass surface can handle. These days, the Desso GrassMaster concept is being sold by Tarkett Sports, owners of FieldTurf.

GrassMaster history

The first ever full-size GrassMaster field was installed at RKVV Wilhelmina in Den Bosch in the Netherlands, and clubs like Huddersfield, West Ham United, Feyenoord FC, Real Madrid, AS Monaco, Nantes FC and Bayer Leverkusen followed in the years between 1996 and 2004. However, it was the use of the surface at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the EURO 2004 in Portugal that made GrassMaster shoot to prominence. During the 2005/2006 season, many clubs in the English Premier League played on a GrassMaster surface, with Wembley Stadium following in 2010. GrassMaster saved the day for the Mbombela and Polokwane Stadiums in 2010 when both FIFA World Cup venues had their field reinforced shortly before the start of the 2010 World Cup tournament.

GrassMaster concept

A GrassMaster pitch has approximately 20 million polypropylene fibres of 20 cm length injected 18 cm deep into the soil in a 2×2 cm grid. The final result will be a surface made up of 3% synthetic turf. The synthetic turf fibres are slightly shorter than the natural grass and will make the surface look green, even when all the grass is gone. It also gives stability to the soil and prevents sods being taken out when players slide over the surface.

GrassMaster construction

GrassMaster requires a very sandy soil without soil life or organic matter, similar to those used for installing synthetic turf. The yarn can be injected before or after seeding of the grass or onto the grass sods. The grass roots will intertwine with the fibres. The sandy nature of the soil and the contribution the synthetic turf fibres make in flushing water down along the fibres is why some people complain that the surface quickly dries out. Grass clippings always have to be removed from the grass, as this stimulates soil life as well as the presence of felt in between the grass blades. Felt will push the synthetic turf fibres down, which will affect the performance of the GrassMaster surface.

GrassMaster installation

The surface is installed by a machine that injects the fibre into the soil. The machine has evolved over the years. The first machine used for installing a GrassMaster surface was a  2nd generation machine. It was diesel powered and had hydraulics. It weighed approx. 12 tonnes, had a speed of 15m2/hour and was steered manually. The machine was succeeded by the GrassMaster Gen-S. This machine is electrically powered and uses hydraulics to inject the yarn. It weighs 7.5 tonnes, has a speed of 20m2/hour and uses laser to guide the injection process.  The latest generation machine is the Gen. 5. This machine is renowned for its silence, weighs 4.5 tonnes, has a speed of 25m2/hour, uses laser, is electrically driven, and, most importantly, no longer uses hydraulics.

How much does a GrassMaster cost?

In 2022, GrassMaster charged approx. EUR 40/m2

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Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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