Pitch Cover Evolution

David Batesin Industry News
Pitch Cover Evolution

By David Bates


These problems were compounded by the time and effort to pull these covers on and off. Issues arose with Health & Safety on manual handling, staff off ill through back problems, to the point where it was difficult to even find labour. As the covers were so heavy, we needed a full contingent of staff to work on them, whatever time of day or night it was and this led to increased labour costs.

We believed with new technology, that newer lightweight covers could be developed that would be much easier to move around, provide better protection to the grass, allow air movement but stop water penetration and decrease the likelihood of disease.

Following over two years of research a Mark 1 Climate Cover version was manufactured. The cover did everything we wanted, it was strong but light at the same time, it allowed sunlight to penetrate, in fact all the characteristics that we were looking for. There was a lot of initial interest and we made quite a few sales including some at Test venues. What we found though was as time went by the longevity of the material was questioned. It reacted with the suns UV and delaminated, thus leading to a failure of the covers.

This led to more testing and a deeper understanding in the way the covers were used and what they were required to do. After a further nine months of research and development the Mark2 was released. All the clients who purchased the Mark 1 covers were given free Mark 2 replacements.

Since then these new covers have been very well received by all the clients. More research and development continues in terms of storage, deployment and retraction. We hope to have an operational retractable system soon for cricket squares that can also be manually implemented. This system will also be able to cover full size winter sports pitches.

The benefits of these new covers at local cricket grounds, is that they offer a great advantage over mobile raised covers, they can be put out and taken in easily by one man. An average 25' x 80' cover weighs 34 kg's, just over a bag of grass seed. The cover can be bagged up and put in the clubhouse during the winter months, this is a major bonus for clubs that suffer from vandalism during the winter months, particularly where storage of raised mobile covers is a problem.

From the plant side, the cover can be left down for almost an indefinite period of time, allowing the grass to grow, recover, despite a week of rain building up to a game. These covers are also used as a germination/propagation cover to encourage new seedlings to emerge and establish much quicker.

From a winter sports point of view the cover is waterproof, but again allows an increase in ground temperature that leads to increased recovery and growth. Tests have been carried out in the American 04/05 winter at the Dallas Cowboys NFL home, the cover was left down continuously for a period of three months on top of the Bermuda grass that lies dormant during the cool season.

There was no disease evident and the Bermuda grass was actually encouraged to come out of its dormancy despite the harsh climatic conditions.

From a British perspective the system is very light weight and can be handled by two men and managed by one. There is a new deployment system being developed that will allow any surface water on the covers to be removed in advance of a game, without the need for extra labour and equipment.

The covers can be manufactured in any size, so each system is bespoke to fit an individual clubs needs.

Climate Cover is a revolutionary advancement is sports turf covering. These covers are sold through Climate Cover Ltd a subsidiary company of Total Turf Solutions Ltd.

Pete Marron, Head Groundsman Lancashire County Cricket Club, Old Trafford, Manchester, UK -
"To put it simply the covers are excellent. Easy to use plus because they breath and allow the light through they have improved the condition of the square."

Steve Rouse, Head Groundsman Warwickshire County Cricket Club, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK -
"The covers are great! Light and easy to use plus they are the best germination covers I have ever had. If I had these covers fifteen years ago I wouldn't have problems with my elbows now. They are wonderful!"

Andrew Mathews, Grounds Manager Harrow School, London UK-
"The best covers we have ever had. Leaving the covers on now is not a problem and because one man can put the cover on by himself it has also freed-up staff."

Roger Brown, Ryelands & St Crispins Cricket Club, Northampton UK-
"The covers are great just what we needed. We use Climate Covers instead of wheeled mobile covers. One man even in strong winds can cover our pitches. It is a lot easier and we can also cover a larger area than normal raised covers. Perfect for squares on a slope"

Total Growth Cover (TGC)


Germination sheets increase the percentage rates of seed germination and accelerate plant growth. Protecting newly seeded areas from adverse weather conditions and animal/pest damage. TGC encourages plant growth by allowing water and air movement and increasing ground temperature.

Frost covers protect sports surfaces from extreme weather conditions. Acting as an insulation blanket TGC safeguards natural sports surfaces from freezing.

Multiple layering will prevent a frozen surface down to an air temperature of -6°C. With an ideal material density of 95%, TGC balances between maintaining air temperature and allowing the grass plant to breath.

TGC systems can be tailored to suit any customer's individual size requirements and be finished with either stitched or hemmed and eyeleted edging.

Made from - High Density Polyethylene 95%
Standard Sizes and Costs
Standard Winter Games Pitch Size - 75m by 108m (8100m2)
RRP: £10,975 plus vat & delivery.

David Roberts, Grounds Manager, Southampton Football Club -
"Many thanks to you for getting these sheets down to us so promptly, the club are sure that without these sheets and the handling tubes we would not have got the game with Sheffield UTD on. The match was played on the evening of the 28th December, kick off at 7.45, this also happened to be the coldest night of the winter so far. We used your frost/germination sheets laid on the shaded half of the pitch on Christmas eve as the weather forecast for the next few days was not looking good. The weather forecast got worse as Christmas progressed so we came in on the 27th December and rolled up and moved your sheets up to the Northern Half. and used the Tildenet sheets on the shaded half. We doubled up on the 18yrd boxes with our own germination sheets laid under the covers.TGC2.jpg

On the match day I constantly monitored the weather and the club kept the referee informed of the predicted cold weather with temperatures predicted of dropping down to minus 6 during the game. Later in the afternoon we made a decision to keep the covers on to the last possible moment, to speed up the operation of removing the covers we rolled back you sheets and removed our germination sheets, the covers where then rolled back over the pitch. Normally I would expect it to take about an hour to remove our old covers before a game, however I guessed we should be able to cut that time down to half an hour as half the pitch was on the handling tubes. I deployed 8 staff to remove the Tildenet sheets and 2 people to roll off your 4 covers, at 4pm the temperatures dropped below freezing and a white frost formed on the sheets and by 6pm the temperature on top of the sheets had dropped to minus 5. We had planned to remove the covers at 6.30 to allow the teams to warm up however once we started removing the covers we realised that because the tubes we would be able to shift the covers faster than expected so we recovered and left it for another to 6.45.

We had all the covers off in 15 minutes and I am sure that this was only possible because of the handling tubes. On the down side the pitch under the sheets was fine for the 30 minutes and then started to freeze on the leaf, by half time the top was just starting to freeze and by full time the middle of the pitch was frozen solid and the team was one nil down. So we got the game on but lost the game and most of grass in the process, hard life being a Groundsman.

Thanks again for getting the sheets to us so promptly and I am now using them during mild periods as germination sheets, in fact one man can deploy one sheet without any real back-ache".

For more details and prices please contact Pitchcare on 01902 824392 or email enquiries@pitchcare.com.

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