The correct installation of a hybrid system requires special attention.
- Hire a manager who is experienced in turf maintenance and is I believe a former player, because he has to understand both the needs of the turf and what is good for the players, he knows how to talk to them and also to the client's managers about the needs of the turf, when and how to use the pitch.
- Always use a 24 sprinkler system (4x6) to avoid sprinklers in the centre line of play, where the footfall from the players is much higher: if the field is around 6000-7000 sqm we recommend sprinklers such as Rainbird 8005S with the sprinkler cup for those inside the playing area and Toro TS90 if the field is 8000-9000 sqm.
- The surface must be well levelled and compacted to avoid settling. The tolerance of your laser must be less than 10 mm over the whole area of the field, because uniformity is important considering that we use very light growth and drainage layers: 80 mm gravel and 80 mm sand under the hybrid carpet. If the soil forms a depression after the installation of the hybrid grass system, you have to correct it by cutting and raising the carpet but then it is difficult to recontour. Around the sprinkler you have to compact the layers of gravel and sand with a road plate to make sure that they do not deform the surface. To achieve perfect compaction of the sand layer, the sand must be saturated with irrigation and then compacted with a double-drum vibratory roller weighing at least 4-5 tonnes.
- Natural grass grows best within the POWERgrass hybrid turf because it offers a thermal insulation effect that protects the roots from abiotic stresses. Therefore in those areas where the climate is outside the range of 10-28°C for a long period (hot or cold), it is advisable to cover the entire surface with the hybrid turf so that the whole picture looks more uniform in the surroundings. In this case, the length of the rolls of the hybrid turf should be equal to the short side of the field, also because sewing the rolls together at the top can be complex and anaesthetic, at least until the natural grass grows.
Correct installation makes maintenance easy
- Sewing the rolls together sideways is not difficult, but care must be taken to do it close to the first row of synthetic fibres. To join the rolls together, fold one over the other, lift and align both, then sew with a portable double-thread machine, such as those used to sew bags of agricultural produce. After sewing, cut the selvedges 15 mm apart from the seams. After sewing all the rolls together, a plastic rake with three short teeth should be used to lift the fibres that are trapped in the seams before starting the stuffing process.
- When infilling the hybrid blanket, start with the cork first. Use a small D. 4 mm spring harrow carried by the tractor and at the same time pull a Keystone-type levelling net to lift all the synthetic fibres. Then continue with the sand/zeolite mixture in layers of 7-8 mm and lift the fibres each time. Depending on the size and shape of the sand, the surface may not be as stable as when the machines pass over it, and tyre marks will be seen when backfilling the mat; in this case use the road roller to remove them after obviously the harrow has passed over and before proceeding with the next layer of backfill. Always employ two men with hand rakes to correct imperfections and allow them to fill and rake the edges evenly. If there are areas where excess sand has been applied, it may be necessary to lift the fibres by hand raking. The appearance of the field should be totally green and ready to play like any artificial field before sowing.
- In the POWERgrass hybrid system, we have observed that sowing on the surface without burying the seed as much encourages rapid emergence. In the case of seeding with lolium perenne, we recommend the Amazone GNK type seeder with a rear roller that performs a slight rolling action. When sowing macrotherms such as Bermuda grass or Paspalum vaginatum, we recommend the use of a drop trolley such as ICL's Drop Spreader SS-2.
- The substrate of sand/zeolite in a 90/10 ratio has provided the best results so far. However, supplementing with the right combination of organic soil conditioners, organic inoculants, organic and mineral fertilisers is very important because it allows us to grow grass quickly and safely without the use of pesticides, achieving success where others fail.
- In hot weather, excess moisture in the soil and air can damage grass more than anything else. Water management, especially in hot weather, is imperative to prevent the grass from drying out and worse still from being boiled where the heat and humidity are too high. Using a professional control unit from Agronic with soil probes positioned at two levels (at -35 and minus 100 mm) and air probes to better understand growing conditions and modify the watering strategy. Watering, in fact, must be adapted to the change in climate, particularly when changing from hot and dry to hot and humid. It should be borne in mind that evaporation is low under the hybrid cover, so watering should be done every day just enough to keep the upper part of the cover in the range of 13-16% humidity. You can balance this when you learn to interpret the probe readings but of course you should always ask for daily feedback from the competent person on site. Using a pump capable of supplying enough water for 4 sprinklers plus 20% (depends on the nozzle size and the nozzle depends on the radius to be covered for the same sprinkler) at 8 atm at least, allows you to be able to intervene quickly to supply the water in a short time even saving water and electricity.
- In winter, keeping the moisture content of the plug above 13-16% means there is less risk of frost and when frost occurs the thaw on a sunny day is quicker.
Please note: the worst time to sow is when the weather is warm and humid, with temperatures above the ideal range for the seeded species and with no wind. Since you have to continuously water to keep the surface moist, you tend to increase the humidity in the air, and therefore the accumulated heat like in a Turkish bath. This risk is moderate in ventilated areas, which is why where the weather is a determining factor it is advisable to use cooling systems to improve ventilation in the first place. In some cases, the use of misting is also recommended, so snow cannons with or without water are the best tool.
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