Johan Cruijff ArenA, KNVB team up to widen adoption of innovative pitch tech

Johan Cruijff ArenA has joined forces with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) to investigate whether the innovative system that monitors the Amsterdam stadium’s pitch can be more widely applied in the sport.

The KNVB has already deployed the monitoring system on the training fields of the Dutch national team in Zeist, and the two parties are initially targeting further adoption in Dutch football. The ArenA said it has regular visits from overseas stadia operators who are interested in the system.

The smart turf monitoring system in the Johan Cruijff ArenA is said to be the only product of its kind in the world. With data produced by special sensors in the turf and measurements taken by the grass team, the system monitors the health and quality of the pitch on a 24/7 basis. A dashboard shows the experts exactly when the turf needs feeding, or receive extra light or water.

Underneath the ArenA pitch are 15 sensors that monitor the quality of the soil on which the grass grows. One weather station on the field and four weather stations on the roof keep track of climate conditions.

Mounted on the roof and on the field, light sensors establish whether the turf is getting sufficient light. Each time the pitch is mown, scanners measure growth activity, including the number of blades of grass on the surface, and identify damaged spots. The turf can be checked 24 hours a day via a webcam.

All data derived from the sensors, and the grass team measurements, get processed for display in the dashboard. The dashboard monitors the health of the pitch and can indicate when it is necessary to maintain or improve grass quality. The dashboard tracks the state of the field in real time.

In collaboration with the Wageningen University & Research, the KNVB is seeking to determine if the monitoring system can help professional football clubs optimise their pitches. The research is being partly funded by a subsidy from Sportinnovator, a program formed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Johan Cruijff ArenA is the home of Eredivisie club Ajax and is also a regular host of Dutch national team games.

Image: KNVB