Have you ever looked at your detailed, manicured lawn and wondered how it compares to the grass in professional soccer stadiums? Like your lawn, soccer pitches experience their fair share of foot traffic. Unlike your lawn, soccer pitches endure constant wear and tear from 22 professional athletes each game. Clearly, the stakes are a little higher for professional soccer pitches and the stress on the turf is never higher than during major international tournaments.
Modern soccer pitches are groomed with global television broadcasts in mind and broadcast globally to millions of fans, so it’s imperative that the turf is in top shape. The Cub Cadet® Infinicut turf mower is being used on the world’s stage this year in Russia, so we asked the experts: “How exactly does the modern lawn differ from a professional soccer pitch?” Here’s a look at just some of the differences, and level of detail, that goes into building and maintaining a premier playing surface.
- Excellence starts with the soil. Your yard and a top-tier soccer pitch are different right down to the soil. In fact, professional groundskeepers refer to it as “loam” instead of soil because the sand-to-soil mix can be as high as 95 percent sand. Specifically, loam is a blend of sand, silt, and clay that makes up the desired soil balance for proper drainage, water holding characteristics and nutrient storage. The advantage of sandy soil is that it drains water considerably faster than natural soil — at least a foot of rainfall per hour – which is crucial for maintaining the turf’s durability and keeping games on schedule.
- Stability comes from reinforcement. Natural grass simply can’t withstand the constant punishment of cleated foot traffic and maintain a pristine look. But most soccer players strongly prefer natural grass over synthetic turf. The solution? A combination of the two. The most advanced soccer pitches contain artificial fibers that are sewn at least six inches into the ground. Making up about three percent of the total playing surface, these fibers anchor the grass and hold the root zone together, greatly increasing its durability.
- Next-level technology provides an advantage. Irrigation systems are just the beginning on a soccer pitch. Many are also built with subsoil air systems that keep the soil temperature warm enough to grow year-round. These systems also provide steady airflow for high root growth. And since many stadiums are so large they block sunlight from reaching the grass, artificial grow lights supplement natural sunlight to further improve growth and recovery.
- It’s a science. Simply put, even the most devoted homeowner can’t match the expertise, striping capabilities and attention of a professional grounds crew. When the Infinicut turf mower cuts the grass, it’s calibrated to cut down to the micron (there are 25,400 microns in an inch). On top of that, ground crews double-cut the pitch lengthwise and widthwise up to three times a week during the summer months. When it comes to keeping the soil moist, the pitch is watered before warmups, before a match begins and then again during halftime — and that’s just on game days.
Even the most pampered lawns would have trouble keeping up with the demands of a modern soccer pitch. While you watch international soccer games this summer you may have a newfound appreciation for the world’s finest playing fields and what the Infinicut mowers do to achieve their look. Truly, the grass is always greener on the professional soccer pitch.
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