Cambridge United FC Head Groundsman Ian Darler on grow lighting technology in lower league football.
Ever since the introduction of the BU-line grow lighting range to the industry, clubs of English lower football leagues have seen an increase in the use of grow lighting technology and pitch quality. Ian Darler, Head Groundsman at Cambridge United FC and well known for his book “Life is a Pitch”, is one of them. Since the arrival of his two BU10’s this season, Ian’s winter is looking a lot brighter, and his pitch a lot greener.
Having worked in the industry for over 40 years , Ian addresses one of the main challenges groundsmen like him face: shade. “Like most of the football clubs, we’ve got a stand next to the south end of our pitch. As a result, the pitch receives little or no sunlight in that area. From November through December we normally start to see the grass weakening in that area, as well as in the goal mouths, especially in times of pouring rain and intense playing schedules. Luckily for us, no matter how bad the weather or the conditions are, I always have two first-aid kits to rely on.”
From this season, Ian had the opportunity to work with proper grow lighting technology for the first time in his career, as the club recently invested in two BU10’s. This way Ian’s goal mouths and the south side of the pitch are provided with sufficient light and heat to grow and recover, even during the darkest and coldest days of the year. “The BU10’s have made a huge difference from the start and kept our pitch in shape. It is better than I’ve ever seen in 40 years. We’ve had 5 games in 2.5 week and atrocious weather with heavy rain nearly every game. Yet, the quality of the pitch has stayed consistent across the surface. The grow lights have contributed massively to that.”
Cambridge United FC can enjoy games in League One after promotion last year. Ian touches on the essence of a good pitch and how grow lighting technology can contribute to that. Playing on a good surface makes a huge difference for the performance of a relatively small club like us. Therefore, it’s important that grass can recover quickly during tight playing schedules. With grow lights, it only takes 5 days until full germination after reseeding. I’m overjoyed with the investment in the BU10’s and how the pitch is performing. For a club with a minimal budget, this is a major transformation. If you were to invest in equipment with a smaller budget, this Rolls-Royce kit will give you a great value and great option to improve your pitch.”
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