Wembley’s hectic fixture and events schedule creates a unique set of issues for FA Head of Grounds and Estates, Alan Ferguson. The grass is often covered for events, effectively starving the plant of essential nutrients, sometimes giving Alan and his team just three weeks to complete renovations and grow-in new turf to get the pitch match ready.
Whilst grow lights and Bernhard’s TurfBreeze fans play their part in this remarkable turnaround, the award winning groundsman believes SubAir to be the biggest contributing factor in promoting a healthier root zone and a stronger plant, enabling Alan and his team to rapidly grow-in a new pitch, especially during the winter months.
“My first time seeing surfaces that used SubAir Systems was at Augusta National Golf Course and New York Mets’ City Field,” Alan begins.
“I was impressed by the cleanliness of the root zone because there were no disorders or black layer in them. They had very little or no fungal activity, the oxygen levels were high and it seemed to be a whole new way to aerate the root zone without having to use a machine on the surface.”
“Without disrupting the surface we can deliver one of the most effective aeration programmes in the country because we’re not going to put machines on the pitch. I had a desire to keep a spring/summer feel to the root zone all year-round to help deal with the recovery from the intensity of the programme the pitch has to endure.”
“Now we have great growing conditions all year-round, we’ve essentially eliminated winter. We’re producing more grass now than we were in July and August, consequently we only use Spring and Summer products on the pitch because we don’t have the issues you’d associate with winter. We are effectively producing the pitch 100% artificially.”