A Sports Field Fit for Royalty: The Air2G2 324 at Real Madrid
Paul Burgess, CSFM, has served for nearly nine years as the Head Groundsman for Spain’s legendary Real Madrid CF at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and its 14 training pitches. Named the “Most Influential Figure in the Turf Care Industry” by Turf Business magazine, Burgess was the first in Europe to earn a Certified Sports Field Manager certification as well as the first European turf manager to be awarded an STMA Environmental Certification.
It’s no wonder that he was the very first turf professional in Europe to purchase an Air2G2 324. Burgess first heard about the Air2G2 324 at the 2013 STMA Show in Daytona Beach, Florida. After watching a demonstration by Glen Black, inventor of the Air2G2 324 and founder of GT AirInject Inc., Burgess was impressed by the technology and purchased the Air2G2 324 through his European distributor, Campey Turf Care Systems.
“The idea didn’t take any selling. I got the idea straight away,” Burgess said.
“It’s a brilliant machine, it does exactly what it says it does. There’s many forms of aeration on the market, but this is the purest form of aeration in the marketplace. Most forms, you punch a hole and hope air goes down. This is a far more effective way of forcing air through the surface.”
The Air2G2 324 relieves Compaction, increases Porosity and enhances Respiration by laterally injecting air into the soil profile with minimal surface disruption and without damaging the roots below.
Burgess said he uses the Air2G2 324 on the stadium pitch and all training pitches, as well as 8,000 square yards of low-cut, golf greens-style grass in the ornamental landscape and garden areas. The stadium and practice pitches are utilized by teams of all ages—from young children to veteran players, academy players, and junior and professional teams including Real Madrid. Foot traffic and wear on the turf leads to compaction and black layer development in the soil, but with constant event turnaround Burgess doesn’t have a lot of time to maintain soil health by pulling cores.
“With any other form of aeration we would have to close the field, which defeats the objective of what you’re trying to do,” Burgess said. “With the Air2G2, we do it and it’s still in play and available for use.”
In the four years since Burgess invested in the Air2G2 324, he has come to believe in the technology.
Burgess utilizes the machine so much that his first Air2G2 324 has more hours on it than any other machine in Europe. In fact, the Air2G2 324 has made such a difference in his program that the facility now owns two machines so that they can be in use as much as possible. If a crew member is available, the Air2G2 324 is on the turf producing measurable results.
“Our root development is much better. We don’t have any big issues with layering, black layer or anaerobic layers. We get sod to root down quicker. We have deeper roots. There’s more nutrients available to the plant to grow a healthier sword of grass,” Burgess said. “It’s the cleanest, most effective way of aerating the surface. It’s pure aeration. It’s brilliant.”
Based on his four years using the Air2G2 324 regularly at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and training grounds, Burgess shares his tips for success.
TOP 3 TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
1. No Down Time
With constant activity on his pitches, Burgess said using the Air2G2 324 doesn’t interrupt play, which is critical to his facility’s success. “One of the best things about the machine is the fact you can treat the field and play directly on top of the surface. There’s no other machine in the marketplace where you can do that. That’s one of its biggest selling points.”
2. New Sod Roots Fast
To help new sod tack down after concerts and events at the stadium, he treats with the Air2G2 324 to help “drop down roots and create an open, aerified soil with lots of pore space for roots to go into, Burgess said. “That’s a classic moment where this machine is useful.”
3. Treat Often
Burgess uses the Air2G2 324 at the stadium and on practices pitches as frequently as possible, and with any crew member who is available because the machine requires very little training to use it properly. “It is a very user- friendly machine and it’s quick and very simple. The probes inject and distribute the air very effectively and very efficiently.”