RCD Mallorca head groundskeeper Benito Mateo and the benefits of LED technology.
‘The grass guru’, how’s that for a nickname! A nickname Benito earned during his extensive career in pitch management. After domestic and international spells at Málaga CF, Valencia CF, San Siro and even China, Mateo returned to the club where he once started his career, to oversee both the RCD Mallorca stadium pitch and the Son Bibiloni Sports complex surfaces. Since January 2023, Mateo and his grounds team are equipped with the latest technology in pitch management: three LED440 grow lighting units.
Although life on sunny Mallorca might sound like a vacation, maintaining the grass at the Son Moix is nothing short of hard work and long days. Something Benito knows all about:
“Managing the stadium pitch sure can be complicated!”, Benito starts off. We’ve got typical Mediterranean weather with hot summers and soft winters. Plenty of natural sunlight, you might say. Were it not for the fact that our stadium grandstand casts shade on a big part of the pitch, complicating the grass growth we need to enable a consistent, high quality playing surface. That south side is the most difficult part of the pitch to get the grass to recover after an intense match. That’s why we were looking for solutions; for an alternative light source that gets the grass growing.”
Generally speaking, there are two options when it comes to grow lighting systems: traditional HPS technology and LED technology. The benefit of the latter; the emitting of light and heat can be controlled independently. In situations where there’s sufficient heat present to activate the photosynthetic process that’s necessary for grass growth, the infrared stays switched off and the grow lighting system only radiates light. This feature makes LED technology a great solution for Benito’s problem area, where enough heat is present, but an extra light source is needed because of the shade caused by the grandstand. Not only does this give the groundsman full control over the growth conditions, it also allows stadium management to save up to 40% on energy.
“The use of our LED440’s has been very satisfactory. We use the lighting units in the shaded area and the results have been nothing but great, both agronomically as with regard to energy savings. I had already worked with SGL during different stages of my career as a groundsman, and have always managed to achieve good results. That’s why here, at Mallorca, we decided to explore the newest SGL LED technology and invest in the LED440 lighting units. As I mentioned, pitch management at Mallorca is complicated, but being able to work with the latest technology helps a lot!”
Although Benito has made quite a name for himself over the years – hence the nickname – there will always be room for improvement. With the latest LED technology at his disposal, the Mallorca grounds team is ready to take pitch management to the next level.
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