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Prevent lawn diseases with sustainable technologies

Lawn diseases have always been a challenge for stadiums and their greenkeepers. In the meantime, clubs from the Bundesliga and LaLiga in particular are relying on sustainable technologies, many of which are provided by SGL System.

The switch to alternative and more sustainable treatment methods also took place as part of the Green Deal, which was introduced in 2020. This would have challenged the adaptability and expertise of the clubs and many clubs passed this test. The Bundesliga and LaLiga clubs were pioneers in this, using UV-C or lawn cooling technology instead of chemicals. “The green revolution is in full swing. But how do the clubs manage their new way of working? ”Asks SGL.

The UVC180 technology from SGL has been used in the BayArena for a year. Image: SGL

There are two relatively new technologies that are designed to prevent lawn diseases and have been used extensively in recent years. One actively treats the grass, the other improves the environment for growth. With UVC technology, the DNA of the fungal cells is destroyed by means of UVC radiation in order to prevent duplication. The lawn cooling, on the other hand, creates air circulation and cools the surface to improve the growth climate. A combination of both technologies should reduce the disease threat and minimize the risk of an outbreak. FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund use this method, among others.

Georg Schmitz, head of the Greenkeeper team at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, is a clear advocate of sustainable technologies. He also believes that sports clubs and stadiums around the world have the task of controlling diseases in the most natural way possible. A year ago, Schmitz began using SGL's UVC180 technology at his place, and the fungal infestation in the BayArena has been reduced to a minimum since then. Schmitz explains: “Many chemicals have already been banned and herbicides will also be completely banned from 2023. There is a realistic possibility that new chemicals will follow suit. But waiting wasn't an option for us. We had to change our thinking and opted for UVC technology in combination with a strict nutrient program. Since then, the lawn has been so well protected that we only had to use pesticides once in the last two years. "

At Real Sociedad and in Spain in general, the risk of lawn diseases is very high. Image: SGL

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) consists of a series of frequencies of light that are invisible to the human eye and occur naturally in solar radiation. There are three spectra: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC has the shortest wavelength and is completely absorbed by the atmosphere so that it does not reach the surface of the earth. Due to its short wavelength and the associated high energy, UVC is able to penetrate cell walls and destroy the DNA or RNA of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. UVC radiation can even kill these organisms and, according to SGL, has been used for over 40 years to disinfect water, air, pharmaceutical products or surfaces. As soon as biological organisms are exposed to UVC radiation in a radius of 200 to 300 nm, the light from the radiation penetrates the cell walls and destroys the molecules. Destroyed DNA or RNA cannot replicate, so the fungus dies before it can cause any damage to the grass.

In Spain, where the summer is often very warm and humid, there is a very high risk of lawn diseases. This is particularly true of closed stadiums. Koldo Anza, Maintenance Manager at Real Sociedad, says: “As part of the renovation work in the Estadio de Anoeta, the space was lowered by 1.5 meters and the roof was expanded by 10 meters. That made for big changes in the conditions for the grass, which in turn increased the frequency of lawn diseases. ”With six lawn cooling systems and the appropriate advice, it should now be possible for Anza to reduce the temperatures at the height of the square by four to five in summer To reduce degrees and increase air circulation. In addition, the disease pressure would be reduced during this time. “We are aware of the effects chemicals have on our planet. With the TC50 technology from SGL, we can reduce our consumption of chemical products and our ecological footprint, ”says Koldo Anza.

Thanks to UVC technology, significantly fewer chemicals are used in the PreZero Arena. Image: SGL

The lawn cooling systems consist of fans with special cooling mechanisms. These help to accelerate the drying of the plants with stronger air currents and to cool the surface in summer. The mechanism works without heat exchange. A stream of fine mist is distributed over an area of ​​50 meters by the fan, which extracts the heat from the surface. The heat causes the mist to evaporate before it hits the grass, creating a cooler surface without a wet lawn.

Due to changes in humidity and temperature in Northern Germany, the Hamburger SV had to take additional and new measures at its place. Greenkeeper Christoph Strachwitz explains: “50 to 75% of the decisions we make are based on the data collected by the monitoring equipment and the advice of SGL agricultural scientists. We look at disease prognoses every day to monitor disease threat. Depending on the prognoses, we decide when the space needs to be treated preventively with UVC light. ”However, UVC technology should not only be used preventively. Strachwitz says: “You can clearly see that an active fungus is being stopped with UVC180 technology. After two days of treatment, first with a special broom for disinfection and then again with UVC technology, the fungus is 100% destroyed. "Sebastian Kowa, groundskeeper at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, sees it similarly:" We use significantly fewer chemicals than before , since the UVC technology can be used very effectively against mold, fusarium and leaf spot disease. "

SGL's technology is also used in thewohninvest Weserstadion to combat fungal infestation. Image: SGL

SGL emphasizes: “These great developments focus on sustainability in the industry. Clubs in Germany and Spain have taken the first important step. But it doesn't stop there, at least for SGL. ”The company's goal is to create a global transition from chemical products to sustainable disease control methods. The result should be a greener planet and fungus-free sports fields. A competition for SGL's lawn care technology enabled clubs around the world to try out the sustainable systems free of charge. (Stadionwelt, March 23, 2021)

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