The Madejski Stadium, home to Reading Football Club and London Irish Rugby Club, underwent its first major pitch reconstruction for ten years.
Contractors, MJ Abbott and Premier Pitches, worked closely together during the time-critical close season over a six-week period.
The venue became the first to have a dual-use pitch with the added durability of the SISGrass hybrid system turf technology. During the later stages of construction, employing effective irrigation to the grass root zone was critical to enable the final pitch levels to be accurately graded and to allow for successful cultivation and seeding of the new surface. Nathan George, Contracts Manager at MJ Abbott was confident that selecting Rain Bird products for the new pitch’s irrigation requirements was the way forward.
After removing around 15 miles of existing pipework, MJ Abbott completely reconstructed the pitch, taking the old one out and starting from the bottom up, reshaped all the sub-base levels, reinstalled the drainage, undersoil heating and rootzone layers. Premier Pitches took responsibility for pitch cultivation and seeding. The company also maintains their involvement by way of annual pitch renovation.
Nathan George comments: “The irrigation cycle is determined by both the weather in general as well as the effects of sun and shade caused by the inherent design of the stadium. We had a high level of confidence in Rain Bird irrigation technology for the project because of the overall quality, performance and versatility of the company’s products.”
Rain Bird’s highly durable 8005 rotors were specified for the central area of the pitch and with their easily adjustable arc from 50° to 330°and 12 to 24.7 metre radius were well suited to the application. Featuring Rain Curtain™ nozzles, the 8005 rotors ensure optimum distribution and close-in watering resulting in superior irrigation uniformity.
Rain Bird’s 950E rotors were selected for the pitch perimeter as they are specifically designed to withstand the rigours of sports field irrigation applications, including hybrid grass. They offer full or part circle and irrigation up to 345° and feature a top adjustable pressure regulator, factory preset at 5.5 bar.
Rain Bird’s Site Control System, used by Adam Grantham Reading Football Club’s Grounds Manager and his team, can be controlled both through a PC and remotely through an iPad. It gives complete control over the irrigation and the flexibility to set up and match the irrigation cycles precisely to the prevailing and predicted weather. The software provides a quick and easy way to build irrigation schedules and programmes based on set parameters. The system’s many advanced features include an interactive map interface that displays the position and operation of individual rotors, displaying real-time irrigation activity and for close monitoring of the system.
Smart Weather tracks evapotranspiration (ET) values and rainfall via the weather station and reacts to current weather conditions based on defined sensor thresholds. The operator is immediately alerted if thresholds are exceeded and irrigation can be implemented for optimum turf conditions. Flo-Graph™ provides real-time graphics of individual station information and Flo-Manager™ balances system demands and maximum capacities with efficiency, helping to lower water demand, reduce system wear and tear and save energy.
Adam Grantham commented: “The Rain Bird system is great and very user friendly, and can be as complex as you would like it to be. I have found it very easy to monitor moisture levels with the sprinkler system coverage being very consistent. The pitch is holding together well and receiving good feedback from the coaching staff and players”. From MJ Abbott’s viewpoint the success of the Madejski project was reflected by the fact that the company has gone on to secure further contracts from Reading FC for new training ground pitches.