Maintenance of artificial turf-putting research into practice

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.Artificial turf is successfully utilized around the world for many sports and many levels of performance and competition requirement. Quality assurance systems for elite and community level demand effective maintenance programmes to ensure adequate play performance, with increasing regulation and auditing in the UK. Past research is, however, very limited in this important aspect of artificial turf science. Practical experience is relied upon to plan for and deliver a range of maintenance techniques to sweep, clean, decompact, replace and repair artificial turf carpets and infills. Validation of these techniques has yet to be comprehensively undertaken and reported. The authors have collaborated with an industry maintenance provider over a 4 year period focussed on measuring the effectiveness of common maintenance practice. This paper aims to present an overview of the data and outcomes of detailed studies into power-sweeping, decompaction, and decontamination, in light of temporal pitch monitoring of changes in play performance. The field data provide a unique insight into the short-term and long-term benefits of these intervention processes. The data permit quantitative analysis of key issues such as: the build-up of contamination that clogs infill and can lead to surface flooding; compaction of infill under player loading and how this affects the system hardness; and how loss of fibre resilience influences ball roll behaviour. The results demonstrate that, for example, the monthly power-brushing of a surface may effectively reduce the rate of build-up of contamination by more than 1% per year. This alone can potentially add several years' playing life to a sand-filled pitch before costly deep cleaning or removal of the contaminated infill is required.