6 Oct 2017

GreenFields Innovative Woven Technologies in the Spotlight

Tags:Football · MX · Woven · XtraGrass · 

Every Groundsman has immense pride in their pitch and spends hours lovingly nurturing the grass making sure it looks perfect and match ready. Natural grass pitches however, are not an option for some clubs who require a greater number of playing hours to be able to sustain their addition financial revenue.

Hybrid and 3G synthetic pitches are becoming much more commonplace in both professional sports and the education sector. Surface specialist, GreenFields UK Ltd has recognised the needs of clubs and schools to implement more sustainable pitch options and have taken this one step further with their portfolio of woven products which is proving popular globally compared to its tufted counterparts.

The difference being that typically, 3G pitches utilise a traditional tufting process where the yarn is punched through a backing membrane and secured by latex to a secondary backing. In comparison, the weaving process brings together the pile and backing yarns to form the woven cloth, offering unrivalled strength and stability. Tufted turfs however are less costly than woven products as production is less time consuming.

For clubs wanting a new more durable stadium pitch or even training facility – 3G isn’t the only option with hybrid surfaces becoming increasingly popular, in fact with the majority of premier league clubs adopting one for their ground they are certainly a tried and tested solution.

GreenFields, whose company’s head office is in the Netherlands is a manufacturer as well as an installer of synthetic and hybrid pitches. With a range of tufted products well established for the brand the R & D team at GreenFields started researching woven alternatives with the original launch of these products over a decade ago. As part of the TenCate Grass group (the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of artificial turf) since 2010, GreenFields has been able to identify further innovations and develop its products substantially over the years.

“The method of traditional tufting of carpets is a well-established process and is very much accepted. However, we felt we could improve upon this and offer clubs an elite option and the difference really is spectacular. With a tufted product the fibres automatically fall in one direction due to the manufacturing process. In comparison, the fibres in a woven product remain vertical even before infill is added. The feedback has been immensely positive from top clubs around the world and we are proud to have a number of great reference sites.”

Paul Milton, Commerical Director, GreenFields UK and EMEA

GreenFields MX Elite

2017 has also brought with it new FIFA Quality standards for synthetic surfaces which are in themselves harder to achieve, but which the GreenFields woven 3G product does effortlessly. The product- GreenFields MX Elite passes and excels every industry test and is a firm favourite with the top tier of clubs around the globe. From training pitches at Arsenal FC, Celtic FC and Charlton Athletic FC to stadium pitches at Falkirk FC, Alloa FC, Hyde United FC and Glasgow Warriors as well as installations at national sporting centres of excellence like the Welsh Rugby Union and Scottish National Performance Centre- Oriam, and this is just in the UK alone. Travel further afield and you will find GreenFields MX Elite installed at FC Koln, the KNVB (the Dutch Football Association), PEC Zwolle, PSV Eindhoven and Sparta Rotterdam.

The reason for such big clubs opting for GreenFields MX Elite; the close resemblance to natural grass both visually and in playing characteristics. The patented woven technology used results in an extremely high tuft bind not only forcing the fibres to stand straighter but also facilitating positive infill movement and equal ball roll from one side of the pitch to the other.

With one season under its belt at Hyde United FC (Evo-Stik First Division North Club) GreenFields MX Elite has been receiving rave reviews. The club has substantially increased the level of activity on their stadium pitch with first team matches and training, community usage and events as well as bringing RSC Academy on site enabling the club to not only increase their revenue but to draw from the pool of players that they have trained and can then move up from their academy to the first team.

“The feedback has been excellent! The players and officials have all commented that it is fantastic and by far the best surface they have experienced. The technology is massively different from other 3Gs, it performs like a grass pitch with increased durability. The woven technology enables the grass to stay upright and it’s an obvious difference to standard 3G pitches.”

Pete Ainger, General Manager, Hyde United FC

Following on from the success at Hyde United FC, GreenFields also recently became the official pitch partner of the Evo-Stik NPL providing NPL clubs with surface solutions to meet the growing demand for 3G and hybrid turf pitches, as well as advice on maintaining grass surfaces. As a result, the league hopes to reduce the number of fixture postponements, especially during the winter months.

XtraGrass

A challenge for many clubs, particularly those in the top ranks where synthetic isn’t a consideration is choosing a surface that can withstand the number of playing hours, more so for clubs where dual usage is an issue. With XtraGrass, GreenFields have found the perfect solution for teams combining natural and artificial grass in their hybrid product for the best of both worlds.

With some similar top names opting for it, XtraGrass has also been installed at the KNVB and PSV Eindhoven as well as Oxford United FC, the Ricoh Arena (home to Wasps RFC and Coventry City FC) and elite international and national rugby training facility- The Lensbury Hotel.

GreenFields XtraGrass combines the positive properties of natural grass with artificial fibres for a year-round green surface giving the visual impact required for the television cameras, whilst maintaining stability and minimising scarring. The synthetic fibres are woven into a partially biodegradable backing ensuring lateral strength to support the pitch. The open matrix allows the grass plant roots to grow through the fibre and to access moisture and nutrients. An alternative installation approach to seeding is to utilise XtraGrass farmed turf rolls which can be laid down with play possible within a matter of days.

The Ricoh Arena is a fine example of how XtraGrass stands up to two sports with rugby and football both in full swing at the stadium. Installed in Summer 2015, the Ricoh Arena’s owners recognised that their playing surface would need to offer the additional durability to withstand a season full of sports and so opted for the XtraGrass pitch from GreenFields. Into its third season at the stadium and following a summer of renovations, the XtraGrass pitch appears as green and as durable as day one, ready to take on the hard winter months.

Mark Bucknall, Operations Manager for GreenFields and responsible for the company’s national Grounds Team (two members of which are in situ at the Ricoh Arena) expands on the benefits of XtraGrass: “For rugby, the benefit is that the pitch is more stable in a scrum maintaining traction and stability, even when grass cover is lost as the season progresses and reaches the winter months, the pitch also stays level in the goalmouths which can often be an issue with natural grass pitches. The additional fixtures that it enables is obviously a massive bonus as a natural grass pitch would find it difficult to cope with the pressures of a dual use stadium.”

Wasps RFC players further back this up, explaining how the XtraGrass pitch supports their game. Jake Cooper Woolley, Wasps Prop said: “Not only does the pitch look good all year round, there’s much more stability under foot in the middle of a scrum.”

Christian Wade, Wasps Wing reiterates this: “The XtraGrass pitch is a really fast track to play on.”

Another string to the bow for XtraGrass as well as GreenFields MX Elite is that both woven products are eco-friendly. The fibres and backing are part of the same polymer family enabling both products to be recycled efficiently at the end of their life-cycles.

What does the future hold for Woven Technologies?

“Our R & D team work tirelessly to ensure our product portfolio is market leading. We feel that our woven products are an elite offering but we also see a gap in the market to expand upon this innovation by developing a woven non fill product that would pass all FIFA and World Rugby performance tests. Our team are working on this currently and think this could be immensely popular with clubs who are no longer wanting to use the traditional SBR infill but where infill alternatives are proving too expensive and unrealistic.”

Paul Milton, Commercial Director, GreenFields UK and EMEA

With these new innovations in sight GreenFields are looking forward to introducing them to the market and are also gearing up to tell the industry more about their woven technologies at annual industry show- SALTEX where they will be showcasing their innovations to a captive audience. For more information visit the team on their stand (D042) at SALTEX on 1-2 November 2017.

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