Real Madrid and Barça open the New Grass of the Santiago Bernabéu

On August 16 the Supercopa of Spain returns to the Santiago Bernabéu, where Real Madrid faces FC Barcelona. Both teams will debut the new turf that Novogreen has installed on the field a few days ago.

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This is the third year that Novogreen installs its hybrid lawn at the Bernabeu, grown at its Arévalo estate (except in 2015, when the grass was brought from Italy).

Several months of preparation are needed for cultivation, in order to create the carpeted appearance that already appears the stadium.The grass is composed of the species Lolium perenne and Poa pratensis, and was planted on April 20 on a mixed artificial turf blanket. The sand used was inert, which provides optimal infiltration capacity and ensures the absence of weed seed bank.

Prior to planting, the planting ground was prepared in such a way as to resemble a football field. For this, a leveling and planimetría job was done using an irrigation system with elite football sprinklers.

The Novogreen estate, located in Arévalo (Ávila), provides an ideal environment for cultivation due to its mild and dry climate, and is free of poa annua and diseases. Thanks to their environment, the use of fungicides is unnecessary, and fast growth is assured. During its growth, herbicides or pesticides are not used, and in case of appearing some undesirable element is extracted manually.

In only three months the carpet was ready to be installed, and was in perfect condition for a  football match. Paul Burgess, the grounds manager of Real Madrid, visited the field and gave his approval so that the carpets could be transported and inserted. Burgess and his team are involved in the whole process of getting what some media have defined as “the world’s most famous soccer prairie”.

Preparation of the Pitch

On Tuesday, August 1, the installation began in the Santiago Bernabéu. The task started by extracting the hybrid lawn that was placed last year. This type of grass has a great advantage in its extraction, since the system that is used is the same as natural grass. It can even be extracted and used in another field if desired. In the case of the Bernabéu, the lawn was removed with the Koro Field Top Maker, the machine typically used in these cases, and the material was later taken to an authorized landfill.

Subsequently, and by means of receivers that ensure the maximum homogeneity, silica sand is introduced next to the necessary products. The soil is ready to begin to rotate the rotavator and homogenously mix the rooting layer.

Once this phase is finished, one of the most important parts of the process begins: leveling, taking into account the previous dimensions of the terrain to leave it exactly the same. The double tandem laser leveler and double control ensures a perfect finish.

Extraction, transport and installation

Everything was ready to start putting in the carpet. Due to the high temperatures, the work began in the evening of Friday August 4 after the carpets were extracted from the Arévalo estate. In the operation, two types of extraction equipment so that the process is as fast as possible. That night there are 11 trucks waiting to transport the carpets in refrigerator trailers to -2 Cº; the average time of arrival is 150 minutes. This way the installation is carried out in only two nights, thanks to an extraction team of 17 people and another 27 for the installation.

In the Bernabéu three installers are prepared; only one is necessary, but you have to be prepared for any inconvenience. While laying the lawn, the laser leveler is used to erase the tracks of the machinery and correct any deformation that may occur. The Sand Pro is also passed, provided with a metallic grid to leave a prefect planimetry. When you have a percentage installed, you start to unroll.

It is strongly emphasized that the extraction and installation process is short so that the grass is stressed as little as possible. Since a roll of carpet is extracted in the farm until it is installed in the field of play they spend only four hours. When Saturday’s sun was above the stadium, 55% of the field had already been placed. And in the early hours of Saturday to Sunday the process was repeated.

On the morning of Sunday, August 6, the new lawn for the 2017/18 season was already installed at the Santiago Bernabeu. After some careful planning, everything went as planned; the hybrid carpet provides stability and fastening from the first moment, to the point that we could pinch.

Our thanks to Paul Burgess, Grounds Manager of Real Madrid, for his confidence in Novogreen and project leadership. The first challenge in the resistance of the turf of Novogreen: the return match of the Supercopa with the visit of FC Barcelona.

Malaquías Rodríguez
Departamento Técnico-Comercial Zona Este