Effective maintenance of artificial turf is vital in prolonging its life and adequate play performance.
Maintenance of artificial (also termed synthetic) turf surfaces has for some time been under-resourced often due to the belief that AT is ‘low maintenance’ surface. However, in more recent years maintenance has been the topic of much discussion within the industry and its importance is increasingly emphasized in national and international governing body and industry guidance documents. However, controlled experimental studies into the effectiveness of maintenance techniques and development of understanding of the mechanisms and rate of decline in performance of artificial turf systems are currently few and far between in the available literature. Consequently, current guidance is mainly experience based and anecdotal.
Capturing this experience and validating it scientifically is a challenge, however. In addition, the somewhat generic guidance available in ‘best practice’ guides is perhaps less relevant to the recent developments in yarn and infill technologies and there exists little specific guidance from the surface system manufacturers.
Most notably, research into 2nd Generation ‘sand filled’ surfaces was completed at Cranfield University by Andy McLeod and Iain James culminating in useful guides for practice:
- The management and maintenance of second generation sand-filled synthetic sports pitches
- The effect of maintenance on the performance of sand-filled synthetic turf surfaces
- The effect of particulate contamination on the infiltration rates of synthetic turf surfaces
The research at Loughborough is focussed on the long-pile rubber infill 3rd generation systems, prevalent in football and rugby codes.
The SSRG group have been involved for many years in gathering evidence of the effectiveness of maintenance techniques, and establishing mechanisms and quantifying the decline in performance of in-service pitches.
Our research work includes partnering with the groundstaff at Loughborough University to monitor the going performance of a range of artificial surfaces for football, hockey and rugby.
Fully funded research includes collaborations with Technical Surfaces Ltd. of Leicester via Enterprise work, an Engineering Doctorate and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
Enterprise work included the evaluation of potential damage to carpets from powersweeping and advice for maintenance in an AFL facility in Melbourne Australia.
- ‘New Management Systems for the Maintenance of Artificial Surfaces’, Jan 2015 – March 2019, Technical Surfaces Ltd/Innovate UK. Knowledge Transfer Partnership (Charlie Watts, KTP Development Engineer)
Description: To plan, develop and implement a suite of tests to measure the effectiveness of maintenance techniques and procedures on synthetic playing surfaces, and predict life expectancy.
- ‘Integrating Maintenance and Sport Surface Science’, Oct 2010 – March 2015, Centre for Innovations in Construction Engineering & Technical Surfaces Ltd. Engineering Doctorate (Nick McLaren, Research Engineer)
Description: To investigate the effectiveness of maintenance techniques and procedures, and introduce new laboratory and field testing tools to monitor pitch ‘health’.
- 2012-2013 – ‘Maintenance of Australian Rules Football Artificial Fields’, sponsor Federation (Ballarat) University/AFL Australia.
- 2009 – ‘A Laboratory Study of Carpet Fibre Damage from Maintenance Brushing’, sponsor Technical Surfaces Limited.
Selected recent publications
Click here to view recent publications in this area.