Lighting up at PSV
By Laurence Gale MSc
Stadium Managers are always looking at new technologies to enhance the performance of their pitches. In recent years we have seen the development of lighting rigs that are positioned over the turf surface. The increased light levels help to stimulate grass growth.
There have been a number of trials in the UK, namely at Sunderland's Stadium of Light and more recently at Newcastle's St James Park Stadium. The results have been very promising; Adrian Partridge HG of Sunderland has been very impressed with the results with the amount of sustainable grass growth he achieved in the winter months using the SGL system. The temperature under the lights was 3 degrees warmer than the rest of the pitch and five times more grass clippings were being collected from this area than from the whole of the rest of the pitch.
Adrian then took out two soil profiles, one from the trial area, one from outside of the trial area. The results showed that the roots are far improved where the light and heat treatment took place.
However, up to quite recently the lighting rigs were only capable of lighting relatively small areas. (6-18 yard box areas). A recent visit to the PSV Philips Stadium in Eindhoven enabled a group of leading UK Stadium Groundsmen / Managers the opportunity to see a modified set of lighting rigs that can cover well over half of the pitch.
Nico van Vuuren, Project manager for SGL (Stadium Grow Lighting B.V.) had organised the visit with John Hewitt (Hewitt Sportsturf), the aim of which was to see the system working. With the emphasis of seeing at first hand, the benefits these lights have brought when managing turf in cold conditions.
SGL can now offer a more flexible lighting rig system that is easier to set up and move. The lamps are positioned 2.5 metres above the turf surface allowing room to work underneath them. Nico has also developed a set of Growlab Analysers that monitor a number of environmental factors of the pitch that help control and run the lighting rigs.
The SGL Growlab Analysers are very precise instruments that can measure the following growth factors:
- Air Humidity
- Soil Humidity
- Soil temperature
- Air temperature
Sensors are situated both in and above the turf's profile. The sensors are attached to a movable stand. Information received from the sensors is relayed by radio signals to a command communication module that records all the data collected.
The computer interprets this data and then commands the lighting rigs to switch on or off depending on the
These Analysers can also be used to record and monitor the turf's health over periods of time, graphical information can be re-produced to show the environmental condition of the turf at any given point of time, allowing you to make more accurate decisions about your maintenance regimes in response to watering and feeding programmes.
On our arrival at the home of PSV Eindhoven we were given a tour of the magnificent Phillips Stadium. It is very impressive but like most modern stadia has inherited the problems of poor light and air movement, due to high-level seating and roof construction.
SGL have been operating their system at PSV for several weeks and the results have been excellent. The stadium manager Tom Ploegsma, is very pleased with the system and stated how well the grass had performed since using the lights. It's growth rate and colour was very consistent, coupled with the added benefit of the soil being warmed up by the lights to give a drier and firmer surface.
The system being tested at PSV consists of ten lighting rigs that can be moved around the pitch, allowing the Groundsman to alternate which area of the pitch needs treating.
Nico runs a company called Porta Nova that produces over 50,000 cut flower roses per day. The systems and technology that is in place was the inspiration and idea behind setting up the SGL system.
Nico uses the light and analysers technology to grow his roses 24 hours per day; it was the ability to transgress this concept into the SGL system that has proved the success of the lighting systems.
Nico has further plans to develop the SGL system further by designing a full rig system that does not require the need to stand on the pitch and can be lowered or moved into position enabling the whole pitch to be treated. Thus reducing the current time and effort required in moving and setting up the present system.
However the benefits have already been proven, Nico has been working with a number of universities to establish and test the performance of the lighting systems and to date the results have been very good both scientifically and practically.
John Hewitt (Hewitt sportsturf), Richard Norton (Reebok), Bruce Elliot (Reading FC / London Irish) and Gary Kemp from Norwich FC (Canaries) were all impressed with the growth seen at the PSV stadium.
SGL have appointed Hewitt Sportsturf as their UK sales agent to push forward SGL's profile and promote the SGL concept. Hewitt sportsturf see supplementary lighting as an essential development to all stadium management. John Hewitt has monitored the SGL concept for 2-3 years and has formed a close relationship with SGL to take the concept forward.
John Hewitt explained there is now a definite solution to providing stadiums, regardless of size, a guarantee of achieving a healthy grass sward throughout the entire year, therefore the natural grass solution has clear benefits over synthetic grass.
However there were still plenty of questions to be asked: -
- Initial purchase costs for a ten rig system
- Initial costs for the Growlab Analysers
- Labour costs for moving and setting up lamps
- Running costs (electricity)
- Life span of the lighting rigs
- Lamp replacement and servicing costs
Another factor that was brought to light (excuse the pun); does the grass plant leaf tissue became softer, more susceptible to damage, wear or disease when grown for long periods under these lights?
The selling point for SGL was centred around the fact that the system works and grass was growing consistently in the depths of winter, thus increasing the opportunity of keeping good root and shoot density all the year round.
This point alone reduces the likelihood of having to returf or heavily renovate the pitch at the end of the season therefore lowering annual management costs.
For further information about Stadium grow Lighting B.V. you can Contact Nico van Vuuren at:-
Webb site www.sglconcept.com
Stadium Grow Lighting B.V.
1432 AH Aalsmeer