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Hybrid grass

POWERgrass hybrid grass offers the benefits of natural grass at low maintenance costs because the system's hybrid carpet protects the plants from intensive play. The maintenance method of regenerative agriculture creates a symbiotic ecosystem between the vegetation and micro-organisms. The natural grass grows vigorously and contributes to temperature reduction and sequesters carbon, purifying the air also from the dust offering a positive environmental impact. The hybrid pitch mitigates climate change and prevents soil erosion, offers many more hours of safe play and limits the risk of extraordinary maintenance because it does not require replacement of the system if the natural grass is maintained regularly.

POWERgrass provides a new definition of the "HYBRID FIELD".

Hybrid grass cross sectionHybrid grass cross section

POWERgrass sets a new meaning of “hybrid grass systems” that defer from the "reinforced natural systems" we know so far. Hybrid grass systems must deliver a surface where the natural grass can thrive inside the system and resist for at least 20 hours of play per week during the growing season. At the same time, must provide enough fibres protruding on the surface to play also without grass, because in the winter the plant leaves may be damaged. This result is only possible with on site installation as natural or reinforced grass sods are simply laid down and cannot be sewn just as the hybrid carpet rolls. This type of installation make a huge difference for the lifespan of the hybrid grass system and the warranty itself.

Hybrid carpet systems can be also provided in big slabs but we cannot anymore consider this any more "hybrid field" but simply reiforced. For the sake of good understanding POWERgrass can deliver a hybrid pitch when it is installed directly on site or a reinforced natural pitch when the installation is made in slabs that include the hybrid carpet even if it is the same. 

Hybrid grass systems are in fact an alternative to the synthetic pitch and not something in between as the “reinforced natural system” because the game activity never stop during the playing season. Those who love to play on natural grass and wish to provide a high performing pitch that will reduce the maintenance and overall costs, select the POWERgrass system and contribute on the dissemination of new ecologic methods to operate based on the circular economy guide lines. 

Natural and synthetic grass, if well combined, provide double benefits!

POWERgrass hybrid grass offers the ideal solution for players, investors and groundsmen of the sport fields. The hybrid turf system incorporates up to 3% synthetic turf to counteract the wear and tear of natural grass. The remaining 97% of the turf is covered by natural grass. Our aim is to offer a surface that is always playable and above all free of divots.

The POWERgrass hybrid system offers numerous advantages:

POWERgrass has a 100% natural appearancePOWERgrass has a 100% natural appearance

1. Predictability of ball bounce, just like a traditional natural grass pitch.

2. Up to 1,200 hours of play time per year for the northern climate and 1,400 hours per year for the southern climate, enough to meet the needs of most clubs.

3. Slip resistance during player acceleration and deceleration. The anchorage of the natural grass roots to the carpet provides better traction during changes of direction and reduces the risk of falls.

4. Softness in case of a fall: the player will have the sensation of falling on a natural field.

5. Low maintenance costs. The grass recovers quickly after use, while the roots penetrate the Powergrass carpet, minimising the risk of raising grass sods and forming divots.

6. Durability of more than 20 years with careful and dedicated grass care.

7. Easy removal and reuse. Removing hybrid sod is easy: the sod harvester collects the carpet with the natural grass anchored. Afterwards, the sod can be reused for public green spaces, parks or home gardens.

The characteristics of the playing fields

Today, the most prestigious pitches are made of natural or reinforced natural grass, while intensive-use pitches are made of synthetic grass.
The national federations and FIFA have established the quality criteria FIFA QUALITY or FIFA QUALITY PRO for the construction of synthetic pitches.

The surface supports the playerThe surface supports the player

According to FIFA standards, all playing fields must guarantee:

  • the drainage of rainwater to avoid the formation of puddles and making the game difficult;
  • the flatness of the surface because any hollows and irregularities can deviate and slow down the trajectory and bounce of the ball;
  • the restoration of damage and cracks in the synthetic carpet to avoid the risk of sprained ankles and knees and to give players greater confidence.

In recent years, new parameters have been added to assess the quality of the playing surface:

  • the softness of the pitch to improve comfort and cushioning in the event of a fall;
  • the stability of the playing surface to support the player during every action on dry and wet surfaces;
  • the traction of the surface to improve shoe grip, offer more play and reduce the risk of falls.

Although synthetic turf pitches undergo few changes during the season, on natural grass pitches these characteristics change rapidly and require continuous maintenance.

The players' point of view

NFL players are fed up with syntheticNFL players are fed up with synthetic

During the game, the player is constantly accelerating, decelerating and changing direction. Consequently, the adherence of the shoes to the playing surface is crucial to support the player and avoid unintentional slips or falls.

Although synthetic turf pitches have made considerable progress in terms of quality, professional players do not seem to be convinced that they experience muscle problems more frequently on an artificial turf pitch than on a natural grass pitch.

The problem with natural pitches is even more complex because the pitch varies considerably depending on the weather conditions and the quality of maintenance. On the one hand, players complain about the condition of the pitch, but on the other hand, it is objectively difficult to maintain a natural grass pitch in top condition.

A prime example of this was the stadium in Trieste during the 2020 U21 European Championship. The Municipality of Trieste has a beautiful stadium and spends an average of 13,500.00 euros per month, plus incidental expenses (VAT, technical expenses, etc.) to keep the grass in efficient condition for 22 matches on the natural grass during the championship.

The risk that the natural grass will have to be completely replaced during a cold and rainy winter is high, so at least 130,000.00 euros of reserves are needed. In Italy, every year through 10-12 stadiums fail to keep the grass in good playing condition and change the sod in particular after a hot summer. It is no coincidence that several stadiums are in a poor state due to a lack of funds or know-how to maintain the grass.

The limits of synthetic turf

In our work we are always in contact with managers, former players, who complain about the condition of the synthetic pitch based on past experiences. When the pitch is hard, players experience back pain or burning ligaments.

The grip of the studs reduces the risk of fallsThe grip of the studs reduces the risk of falls

Several studies have revealed that ankle or knee sprains are more frequent on artificial turf pitches than on natural grass pitches. Researchers have concluded that artificial turf has too much grip on the player's shoe. Natural grass, on the other hand, tends to yield to the rotational force of the player, allowing a more natural rotation that does not damage or injure the athlete.

On the interaction of the player's shoes with the sports surface, once again, only synthetic grass is tested. The first test concerns the slipperiness of the surface. An instrument is used that simulates the player's shoe and provides measurements regarding the risk of slipping. The second test concerns the traction of the pitch. A round plate with studs similar to those of a football boot is used. The plate rotates progressively and is able to measure the force required to achieve a 45° rotation.

The cause of this 'greater grip' by the synthetic turf can be attributed to the synthetic fibres that tend to lie flat on the surface after only 2-3 seasons. When the synthetic fibres are not upright, friction and resistance to rotation increase significantly; this is exacerbated if you are in a climate with high temperatures. Synthetic turf manufacturers claim that this risk can be reduced by replenishment to maintain proper infill, continuous brushing and refreshing of the pitch.

More investigation is due to synthetic turf pitches with rubber infill as "the springback acts as a grindstone for the player's back".

We at POWERgrass have come to a different conclusion because nowadays, the biggest problem with synthetic turf is not the excessive "stud's grip" on the synthetic fibres because resilient fibres have been developed in recent years. Furthermore, football players are not dancers and do not need to make intense rotational actions on the supporting foot.

In our opinion, the biggest problem with synthetic turf pitches is in fact the slipperiness of the surface because the stud does not grip the synthetic surface enough because the infill is in loose granules without consistency and when compacted the stud does not penetrate sufficiently. The ligaments work harder to compensate for the instability of the surface, the player loses grip and therefore speed and traction.

The problems with natural grass

Every player's dream is to play on a thick and homogeneous natural pitch. What players often don't think about, however, is the difficulty of maintaining a natural pitch in top condition every day for the duration of the season.

With intensive use, a natural grass pitch is easily ruined, whatever the sport! A footballer hitting the ball too far underneath or a rugby player making a tackle... Sods of natural grass are easily torn. After each game, especially if you are a professional, you have to restore the turf in the most damaged areas and, if the damage is serious, replace the turf. As well as being time-consuming and expensive, the results are often not optimal because the new turf needs months to integrate with the rest of the pitch.

Building and maintaining a purely natural grass pitch is often a challenge in both cold and hot climates. If the temperature is out of the ideal growing range, or for reasons of time constraints, transplanting nursery-grown turf sod is used, but it is a costly and time-consuming operation and it is not easy to make sure that everything works properly. Lawn diseases during sod transplantation are common when the lawn is under severe stress. Sudden thermal stress can cause serious damage.

The solution of POWERgrass

The POWERgrass hybrid turf is the perfect combination of synthetic and natural. The POWERgrass hybrid system has been specially developed to overcome the problems of conventional synthetic turf while offering the best possible base for growing natural grass. By installing it in situ, a uniform surface is formed where you can play either immediately or 4 weeks after seeding on reinforced natural grass. Once the turf reaches the desired density, the risk of sprains is reduced because the natural grass covers 97% of the surface and allows the shoe to rotate with the player. The risk of slips and falls is reduced because the roots penetrate and anchor themselves to the hybrid backing, offering greater resistance to traction. The sensation is that of playing on a natural pitch that is easy to maintain in perfect condition during the playing season.

At the same time, the system has much lower maintenance costs than purely natural turf. The fibres protect the crown of the plant from wear and tear and regenerate quickly, while the roots penetrate our hybrid carpet making it much more difficult for the player to "tear up" the natural sod. The presence of the hybrid carpet strengthens the natural pitch in all its aspects. The risk of the player creating a hole is nil. If, for any reason, the natural grass has not yet grown or has been damaged, players can still play on the synthetic turf until the next 3-4 week seeding interval.

Measures >100 Gm indicate a hard pitchMeasures >100 Gm indicate a hard pitch

On a hybrid pitch like POWERgrass, the absence of divots is obvious and is the first saving in the maintenance budget. The softness and the traction strength of the playing surface can be measured and maintained uniformly over a long period of time with ease.  Thanks to numerous studies conducted by the industry, it has been possible to develop tools, first and foremost the Clegg hammer, which enables you to measure the hardness of the sports surface from your groundsman in less than an hour. According to numerous studies, all technicians agree that the ideal values to measure on a football pitch are in the range between 65 and 85 Gm; values above 85 Gm are acceptable, but should NOT exceed 100 Gm. In order to keep the field soft, it is sufficient to wet it before the game and, if this is not sufficient, to aerate the substrate with a hole punching machine equipped with thin tines.

The hybrid pitch built by our group in San Benedetto del Tronto provided further proof of our innovation and know-how. The team played its first match 17 days after planting and the coach was impressed. We ourselves were in stunned by nature's potential. At POWERgrass we have done extensive studies that few people today can even comprehend. The pitch offers a champions league playing surface with simple and modest maintenance.

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