Turf team's hard yakka getting Yarrow Stadium pitch match fit

Dan Quinn has got the patience of a saint as he does holey work at Yarrow Stadium.

Dan and the crew from FieldturfNZ are spending long days stitching fibre into the main pitch as part of work installing international-quality hybrid turf ahead of kick-off on 3 September when the Yarrows Taranaki Bulls play Waikato in the Bunnings NPC.

Two GrassMaster machines will take around 25 days to punch 1,000 rolls of artificial fibre – made up of 5km of fibre for every roll – into thousands of minute holes in the pitch. The combination of natural turf and artificial fibre will give the pitch a much longer lifespan, shorter recovery times after games and be friendlier on the environment.

“It can certainly be an extremely slow process and can test your patience a bit but the results are worth all the effort,” says the Operations Manager.

“We’re working 12-hour days, seven days a week to finish the job as we can only do around 10 metres an hour. It takes time as the machine has to punch the fibre down 20cm with 88 needles, then cut the fibre at exactly the right height and move forward ever so slightly to do the next row.

“The result is incredibly tough turf which can take a lot of punishment and recover quickly. GrassMaster is the Rolls-Royce of turf and Yarrow Stadium will have a pitch as good as anything in New Zealand and the world.”

Dan says the days of stadia using pure grass pitches have gone with all big venues now using some form of hybrid turf. FieldturfNZ’s recent work has included installing GrassMaster turf at the FMG Stadium in Hamilton and Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

The pitch installed by FieldturfNZ, working alongside New Zealand Turf Management Solutions, is all new with the artifical fibre the last component after putting down gravel, sand, eco-friendly Biochar (a fine-grained, highly porous kind of charcoal) and natural turf grown from seed.

“The days have been long and it’s pretty cold when we clock off in the evening but it’s satisfying to know the pitch will last for years and years and is a perfect yet incredibly tough playing surface.”

Mike Nield, Director-Corporate Services at Taranaki Regional Council which owns the venue through the Taranaki Stadium Trust, says the hybrid turf will put Yarrow Stadium in the same class as some of the best stadia in the country. “It’s a step-change for the stadium as we’ll have a main pitch that’s international quality and resilient enough to be used again and again by our community.”

The stadium project has received funding from the Government’s Covid Infrastructure Recovery Fund. The West Stand will reopen in September this year and the new East Stand is forecast to open in 2024.

GrassMaster fast facts

  • GrassMaster turf machines are manufactured in the Netherlands.
  • Same machines have stitched the FMG Stadium and Mt Smart Stadium.
  • Fibre is punched down 20cm.
  • Fibre works by providing an anchor which grassroots can entwine.
  • The fibre is polypropylene monofilament fibres and there are 20 million of them in every GrassMaster pitch.
  • Machines are covered by a moveable marquee to protect fibre and electronics from the rain.