Amsterdam ArenA uses high-tech technology to measure and monitor turf health

Amsterdam ArenA will be the first stadium in the world to use high-tech solutions to measure and monitor health of the turf. A system consisting of advanced sensors and infrared at micro level will continuously monitor the natural grass turf. With this technology, the stadium aims to upgrade the ArenA grass to the highest level and eventually grow ‘top quality grass’. The plan is part of a new strategic partnership between HAS University and the Amsterdam ArenA.

HAS University and the Amsterdam ArenA have signed a two-year partnership contract for the purpose of further improving the quality of the stadium grass. Targeted monitoring and analysis of the turf quality and subsoil is a priority in this respect. As part of this project, Amsterdam ArenA and HAS University of Applied Sciences will develop an innovative system that will provide 24/7 access to turf health data. For this system, the ArenA will use technology that no other stadium anywhere in the world has ever applied before. This new, high-tech measuring and monitoring system will provide access and record the turf quality and health data 24 hours a day.

Live access to turf health data
Over the past few months, the Amsterdam ArenA has tested one monitoring system that produces detailed data on developments in the subsoil and within grass plants. This vast flow of data eventually shows up on a dashboard that can be remotely accessed from any mobile device to monitor the condition of the turf at any time. Based on this information, the field managers may decide, for instance, to open or close the roof, supplement irrigation water or add nutrients, or to switch the assimilation lighting on or off. If there is a deterioration in the grass plants’ health, for example, the managers will receive an alert so that they can act immediately. These and other measures will enable the ArenA turf quality to at least match the absolute international top.

State-of-the-art management
‘Even today, we measure quite a lot of things, and turf management is handled with great passion and professionalism. Then again, feeling comes into it as well,’ according to Henk Markerink, CEO of the Amsterdam ArenA. ‘As a stadium, we constantly aim to achieve the highest possible level of quality and performance, especially when it concerns the turf. Top-level monitoring and analysis is of great value to the ArenA as it provides us with knowledge and insight and it enables us to manage our turf more efficiently and sustainably. By focussing more on hard data we intend to eventually optimize the grass cultivation strategy in order to grow “top quality grass”. The partnership with HAS University will contribute significantly to this goal. Moreover, the ArenA can apply these state-of-the-art technologies in our international projects such as in Brazil, Russia and Qatar.’

Living Lab
HAS University appreciates the partnership with the Amsterdam ArenA as a unique opportunity to develop more top-level knowledge, particularly in the area of cultivation strategies. ‘We want to bring college students, teachers and the corporate sector together,’ states Dick Pouwels, President of HAS University. ‘Within this triangle, we want to respond to the business community’s need for highly qualified green professionals who are able to combine knowledge and practical skills. We are thrilled to be able to do this within the Amsterdam ArenA Living Lab environment.’ The high-tech technology that will be used to monitor the turf was developed in the domain of greenhouse farming, where it is currently applied with great success. This furthermore explains why HAS University the Amsterdam ArenA decided to cooperate.

Research programmes
Another objective of the cooperation between the Amsterdam ArenA and HAS University is to train certified field managers, both for stadiums in the Netherlands and for stadiums elsewhere in the world. In addition, both parties will conduct research programmes in fields including sports fields management, crop protection and new systems of cultivation. As part of these programmes, internship as well as dissertation project opportunities will be offered both in the Netherlands and abroad.