Forest Green Rovers FC, the world’s most sustainable football club, has turned to the SISIS Autoslit and the SISIS Javelin Aer-Aid 1500 to help them keep on top of their intense aeration programme.
The club boasts the world’s first ever organic football pitch and it is for this reason that the head groundsman, Matt Rainey, and his team focus heavily on soil biology. Products are only selected that are going to feed the soil and the grasses. No high nitrogen feeds are used.
However, selecting the products is only half of the battle – to keep up with the rigorous demands of maintaining a perfectly organic pitch, only the best turf maintenance equipment products will suffice. It is for this reason that Matt turned to SISIS.
“We obviously have to do a lot of research here for our products and we found that SISIS is a supplier to most of the clubs in the UK. They offer a great service and the back-up service is good. Basically, if you go to a groundsman’s store you’ll see SISIS kit in there,” said Matt.
Both the SISIS Autoslit and the SISIS Javelin Aer-Aid 1500 are part of an on-going aeration regime at the club and as if tending to a totally organic pitch wasn’t hard enough work, Matt also has to battle with unfavourable weather conditions.
“Here at the ground, sand compacts a lot in the winter so we have to try to alleviate our footprint. This is why we try to source machines such as the Autoslit because we are at the second highest point in Gloucestershire so when we get rainfall we get a lot of it.”
The pedestrian SISIS Autoslit is a powered deep slitter which helps reduce turf compaction and thatch build up, boost the health of a pitch and improve drainage; something which is essential for Matt.
“We used to have problems with drainage and a pedestrian aerator weighs a lot less than a tractor mounted one. Again it’s all about the footprint and to keep as much weight off the pitch as possible.
“We used the Autoslit in the middle of July when we needed aeration to get to the new seed in order to make it grow. We also use it a lot during the winter and autumn when there has been a heavy down pour. It’s easy to use and it cleans up the top couple of millimetres of the profile excellently.”
“If it’s a match day and the goal mouth is wet then we just use the Autoslit in the 18 yard box. If I know rain is coming a day before the game then I’ll put the Autoslit all over the pitch. It does a fantastic job and it can be the difference between ensuring the game happens instead of cancelling it.”
In conjunction with the Autoslit, Matt also relies upon the SISIS Javelin Aer-Aid 1500, which is a vertical action air injection aerator. Its air injection tines are specially designed to use the maximum air available from the compressor. It has a wide working width to ensure outstanding turf care whenever you are ready to aerate, something which Matt believes helps keep the pitch in excellent condition.
“The SISIS Javelin Aer-Aid does exactly what it says on the tin. We use it to blow air into the top 10mm of the pitch because winter sport pitches get compacted. It dries out the pitch even quicker, eliminates any black layer that sand pitches produce and it essentially gets air to those roots which then in turn produces stronger roots, stronger grass and better drainage.
“We use the Aer-Aid about once a month but it really depends on weather conditions. We may use it more depending if we identify a little bit of black layer – then we simply pump the air in. We just change the aeration programme for what the pitch requires and the SISIS equipment really helps.
“If you haven’t got the kit then you can’t do the job properly. A key cog doesn’t work at the football club if you haven’t got the right kit and if the pitch doesn’t work then the team doesn’t perform.”
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