In the midst of the worldwide transition to a sustainable society, SGL sets a new standard for efficient pitch management. The past years their agronomy and R&D team worked closely together, to bring together over a decade of agronomical research and technological innovation, and transformed that into the biggest and most efficient mobile grow lighting system for sports grass: the LED440. The combination of improved growth algorithms and new in-house developed LED and Infrared technology, enables SGL to guarantee grass quality and energy savings.
SGL has been working with growth algorithms since day one and with the development of this new technology, it is again the foundation. Founder Nico van Vuuren believes data and technology are inseparable when it comes to sustainability: “In order to be able to have the desired grass growth while using resources most efficiently, you need to know what the conditions are and then calculate what input, such as light, temperature and water, is required. Our agronomy team has optimized our growth algorithm and is able to exactly determine the light and temperature requirements for every individual pitch. Our new LED and Infrared technology on the LED440 enables individual control of light and temperature accordingly. This combination enables us to guarantee energy savings and grass quality.”
Developing a 440 square meter lighting system with LED and Infrared, that is both effective and sustainable, came with a lot of challenges. SGL director of R&D, Scott Bogner, explains: “For a system of this size, we had to address issues like weight and power levels, and also the challenge of how to mix infrared and LED in our signature six-arm platform, so we started from scratch.” To meet both the quality and efficiency demands, the LED fixtures and Infrared fixtures have been designed by developers in-house, based on a decade of agronomical research. Bogner: “Usually in LED fixtures, roughly 35% of the energy is converted in convection heat. Convection heat warms the air around the fixture and is not directed to the surface, which means this energy is wasted.”
“With our new LED fixture, this heat is collected and directed to the surface if additional heat is needed. In addition, we came up with an innovative asymmetrical reflector for our new Infrared technology, to get a consistent temperature across the entire footprint. By designing new LED and Infrared fixtures specifically for our 440 square meter platform, we were able to significantly decrease the number of fixtures. This resulted in a 70% weight reduction per square meter. However, one of the biggest accomplishments, is the overall system efficiency. Being able to deliver as much light as a previous system with a 40% energy saving, is a monumental improvement.”
For the most efficient operation, the LED440 has temperature sensors built in, which constantly measure grass temperature. SGL developed a new Smart control system to make sure only the amount of Infrared is added to reach the desired temperature set by the groundsman. This enables a perfect growing environment in all climates, also in winter, and significant savings in summers and hot climates. SGL agronomist Dr. Irene Vroegop explains the importance of a good light and temperature balance: “Two of the main plant processes, photosynthesis and respiration, are driven by light and temperature. When there is a disbalance, you will get either very thick leaves that are difficult to mow and hard to play on, or weak plants that get damaged easily and are susceptible for diseases. By creating the right balance, you can grow a strong plant that is able to endure a match, which is good to play on and can recover afterwards.”
Van Vuuren and the SGL team have been working towards this moment for years: “Twenty years ago, we set the standard with the first grow lighting systems in sports stadiums. But that doesn’t mean a thing if you stop innovating. There’s always a demand for higher quality; we always have to improve. The LED440 will be the next step for top quality sports grass in a sustainable way, and I’m very proud of that.”