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Case Studies

Scandinavian Football Stadium

A pioneering team of international turf experts has given two Scandinavian stadiums real grass, established for the first time in the winter off-season.

Due to the weather, Scandinavian football is played from April to November. Johnny Trandem a Norwegian turf grower who has turfed many of the country’s stadiums explains that, “This means that our renovation period falls during non grass growing months when soil temperatures are often sub-zero. When I was asked to advise on a new stadium project at FC Fredrikstad, a premier league club about an hour from Oslo I knew that we wouldn’t be able to use Norwegian turf. The pitch was being constructed during the winter ready for the first game on the 14th April, and as a grower myself I knew that the earliest we could harvest here would be May.”

At this point the only alternative seemed to be artificial grass, but having met Stephen Fell of Lindum Turf, Trandem discussed the possibility of importing British turf with consultant agronomist Morten Eirik Engelsjord.

Lindum’s LT6 Sporturf a wear tolerant mix of ryegrasses and smooth stalked meadow grass was recommended as the ideal turf for a football pitch and then a decision had to be made between 40mm thick turf, which is instantly playable, and washed turf, which needs time to establish. “Our feeling was that if the long range forecast for March was extreme cold then thick turf might be the only option,” Trandem continues, “despite the fact that due to its bulk it would be costly to transport, taking around 24 truck loads over the 3-day journey. Washed turf is considerably lighter, and less bulky, needing fewer lorry loads and therefore more cost effective to import, however it would need expert handling in terms of nutritional care and attention to both the soil temperature within the stadium (FC Fredrikstad is equipped with under soil heating) and the air temperature without.”

“We’re familiar with installing washed turf football pitches in summer and having them ready for play in 5 weeks,” says Lindum’s MD Stephen Fell, “but growing-in in March in Norway presented an entirely different challenge. In January we decided to conduct extensive trials creating conditions as close as possible to those in the Norwegian stadium. We were extremely encouraged by the results and when the decision to use washed turf was made at the beginning of February, we were able to provide precise instructions regarding the start up soil temperature and subsequent temperature management at the Fredrikstad Stadium.”

The 1st March saw the first consignment of turf arrive in Norway and laying commenced immediately. Covers were used to protect the new sward from the worst of the night frosts, and on 9th March Morten Eirik introduced a foliar feed programme. “We spoon fed every week,” he recalls. “You have to promote rooting and each roll of turf has to grow together otherwise the corners will lift up.”

Nursed by Trandem, Morten Eirik and turf layers Sport & Grontanlegg the new sward continued to establish and by the day of the first match, when Stephen Fell and John Stannard flew to Oslo to inspect the pitch they found not only a dense sward of good colour, but roots 150 mm long, anchoring the washed turf firmly to the root zone. “Everyone at FC Fredrikstad seemed delighted,” recalls Fell, “with the chairman of the board Odd Hasselgaard saying proudly that he thought it the best pitch in all Scandinavia – if not Europe! We watched the game – the home team won 3-1 against FC Lyn Oslo, and apart from 2 or 3 small divots the pitch never moved.”

Trandem admits that they were taking a chance, but knew that if they succeeded they could strike an effective blow against the use of artificial surfaces. “We were sticking our necks out a bit in recommending the washed turf route but due to the quality of turf, Lindum’s experience and extensive trials, coupled with Morten Eirik’s intensive nutritional programme, everything has worked as planned.”

Perhaps the best recommendation stems from the fact that Trandem and Sport & Grontanlegg laid a second pitch with identical washed LT6 Sporturf from Lindum for FC Helsingborg, in Sweden, a week after they finished Fredrikstad and the results were just as good. “The inference is that we are now able to put grass down in Norway and Sweden off season,” he concludes. “It constitutes a revolution in Scandinavian pitch building.”