The Groundsman

June 2012

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Page 21 of 51

22 FEATURE STRI scores again We report how STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) has been busy preparing football pitches for this month's European Football Championships the Groundsman June 2012 The England team's training pitch at Hutnik STRI has ensured that the England football squad were greeted by first-class training pitches when they arrived in Poland, with the playing surface at the team's Hutnik base having been completely overhauled. The English FA commissioned STRI to deliver a reconstructed pitch – and one that could be used and maintained by Hutnik Krakow. Snow, torrential rain and the coldest winter Poland has seen in 40 years meant that Hutnik was one of the most challenging projects the STRI team has faced. To bring the pitch to the standard required, STRI engaged with a number of partners to deliver the works. CRL International was appointed to help with pitch construction, maintenance and renovation; Everris provided the fertilizer; and Barenbrug provided the seed (annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass). Within one week of the STRI team landing in Poland, the old pitch had been replaced by a Premier League standard fibresand playing surface. The first stage of the project involved the removal of the existing surface vegetation and soil. The surface was then cultivated to break-up and mix-in any remaining organic and root matter to create a homogenous mix. Following the cultivation it was evident that surface levels were not ideal; to provide the perfect playing surface it was blade graded, harrowed and raked on five separate occasions in preparation for a fibre concentrate to be spread across it. STRI imported 350 tons of local sand, which was mixed with fibre supplied by CRL international. The objective of STRI, in conjunction with its suppliers, was to replicate the premium fibresand playing surface found in the Premier League. Having produced the finished surface, the final stage was to apply the fertiliser and the seed mixture to create the opportunity for seed germination and establishment under the climatic conditions. Throughout the project, STRI team worked with representatives from Hutnik to deliver the new pitch while also providing essential new skills and knowledge - lessons in grass cutting techniques and pitch maintenance for extreme weather conditions. Kryzysztof Dębowski, deputy director of investment, said: "The fact that the new pitch is of the same type and quality of that of Manchester United's Old Trafford ground makes me and the city of Krakow extremely proud." • STRI was also appointed by UEFA to advise on the playing surfaces in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Poznan ahead of the European Championships – which follows international acclaim for the company's work in the Ukraine at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Donbass Arena in Donetsk and The Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv.

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