3G Pitch Construction and Maintenance
3G pitches are a great option for sports clubs, schools and other organisations looking to provide a safe playing surface whilst saving money on expensive maintenance costs. These surfaces are designed to withstand heavy use throughout the year and can be easily rented out to local individuals and groups, offering a sustainable income stream for the facility.
However, just like any natural grass surface, it will require regular care and maintenance to ensure that it continues to function well for a long time to come. Many 3G surfaces are also made of organic materials and the rubber granules within can cause injury if people fall on them – which is why a shockpad layer must always be installed beneath the synthetic turf.
To help combat this problem and keep the surface in its best condition, a recent Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Loughborough University’s sport surfaces research group and specialist maintenance provider Technical Surfaces Ltd has been set up to analyse and quantify the effects of specific maintenance processes on play performance for 3G AT surfaces. The partnership mined a database of more than 750 3G AT pitches, spanning 15 years and containing periodic infill depth readings, from which changes to the playability of these surfaces could be determined.
One of the main issues that has been a major focus of this study is the rate at which the rubber crumb infill on a 3G pitch construction degrades over time. This material is commonly made from recycled car tyres and people are increasingly concerned about the potential negative health effects of exposure to this substance, particularly in the event of a player sustaining an injury on the pitch surface. The findings of the study have been used to develop a model that predicts the rates at which this infill material will be lost from the surface over the life of the pitch, with this model also being able to identify the maintenance processes that can be implemented to slow down or even reverse these rates.
The study has also identified simple tests that facility groundsmen can carry out to monitor the condition of their pitches and identify the extent to which a maintenance regime is working. For example, this new model shows that ball roll distance measurements are a good indicator of whether a pitch is showing signs of compaction or infill loss, two of the key mechanisms of surface degradation.
In addition to this, the study has also suggested that a dynamic sub-base construction is essential for a successful 3G surface. This includes incorporating the correct blend of aggregates to prevent problems such as unevenness and waterlogging. With contractors ultimately responsible for commissioning pitches, taking the extra time to get this right can make all the difference between a happy customer and an unhappy client.
Choosing expert contractors to install your 3G or 4G pitch is vital to ensure that it is a quality, fit for purpose surface system that performs as expected. These companies will conduct a free site survey and then deliver honest, expert recommendations to suit your particular facility and budget. The end result will be a top-quality, professional grade surface that you can rely on to meet the highest playing standards – and safeguard players from serious injuries.