Data has always been a part of professional sports turf. For decades grounds people have made notes on paper about their maintenance. As time passed, the paper turned into spreadsheets and has evolved into online pitch management platforms such as GrasPro.
This shift has been down to advancements in pitch technology and the expectations that come with it. Simply put, to get the best out of their investment, pitch managers need to know precisely what is going on with their pitches.
Using a data management system to do this helps collect and track that data and allows for enhanced decision-making and early detection of issues using historical data. As an industry, we are still in the relatively early stages of data platforms, but they have already made an impact; below, we look at the six vital roles of pitch management systems in the future of turf.
The advantages of moving data online
The main advantage of moving data online is accessibility. It's there whenever you need it, wherever you are. With a system like GrasPro, all of your information is in categories, so it's quick to find exactly what you need. No more rummaging around notebooks or figuring out what's the right spreadsheet.
Once you're set up, you really see the benefit of quickly accessing your categorised data, setting and measuring KPIs, and being able to share information with your grounds team, coaches and facility managers instantly. This benefits everything from sharing notes related to upcoming fixtures and quickly comparing and analysing using graphically presented graphs, charts and tables.
Being the change through data
The second vital role of pitch data is decision making and change. Having comprehensive pitch usage and quality data goes a long way to informing the future of your pitches. How many games can they take in one week? When do they need to be aerated? How much water do they need? Etc.
Having this information helps with day to day maintenance, planning and scheduling, but it can also inform major infrastructure decisions when building new facilities, deciding on a new pitch construction or planning a tournament.
Informing decisions is also applicable to consultants who use testing kits and GrasPro to provide informed improvement plans, support grounds team and benchmark pitch progress.
Data is a team effort
This one is less about the vital role of data and more about the team using it. Gathering data regularly is crucial for analysis, and it is a team effort. With everyone involved - whether at the same facility or venues across the globe - having a group of people adding to a system provides more comprehensive data.
It also has the added benefit of engaging those collecting. It helps them understand a bit more about how what they are doing is making a difference, and this can be especially helpful in educating new staff.
Making pitch maintenance a green machine
It's already proven that collecting data is vital for sustainable turf maintenance, and the importance will only grow in significance.
In 2020, The Sustainability Report published by Touchline stated 83% of football fans care if their clubs impact the environment. The report also found that sustainable stadiums cost 31% less to operate.
When it comes to pitch maintenance, working sustainably can be done simply by only using exactly the amount of water and fertiliser you need, not spraying on windy days or by finding the optimum amount of time to use grow lights etc.
The savings this can make whilst helping the environment are considerable and, in some cases, can even lead to finances being available to purchase battery powered mowers.
The ability to bring all of your data under one platform
The popularity of data collection can be seen in its availability. If you buy a weather station or grow lights, they will typically come with data collection software. Whilst this is helpful for that particular tool, you can lose the benefit of having all of your data in one place.
A solution for this is using an independent platform like GrasPro, which has the largest range of data categories available. Having all of your info in one place means you can analyse and report on it in conjunction with other data to deliver the big picture you need.
What's the future of pitch management systems?
A significant role in the future of pitch management platforms is development. Automating the data collection is the next logical step in making it a more efficient process.
This can include everything from automatic water readings to machinery sensors that track machines' usage. Eventually, this can lead to automatically generated daily, weekly and monthly reports for a truly streamlined process that delivers everything you need to know.