Sowing the seeds of World Cup success

Sowing the seeds of World Cup success
    England may be out of the World Cup – and let's face it, nobody really expected great things of them – but for football fans there's been no let-up in the enjoyment.

There have been epic encounters such as the weekend match between Brazil and Chile, and the against-the-odds success stories of Costa Rica and, until they were knocked out by Germany, Algeria.

And there have been goals galore, including classics from Columbia's James Rodriguez against Uruguay and Robin Van Persie's stunning header against Spain.

If you're a keen gardener and you have children, there's every chance they're in the grip of World Cup fever, turning your lawn into a miniature Arena de Sao Paulo. In the British climate, that means it won't be long until your beloved plot resembles a mudbath.

During this World Cup matches have been held all over Brazil, encompassing a huge variation in climatic conditions. Torrential rain preceded the game between the US and Germany, with widespread flooding in the city of Recife leading to fears the match could be cancelled.

In contrast, in the game between the Netherlands and Mexico temperatures reached a high of 39 degrees celsius, slowing down the game and meaning drinks breaks were necessary to combat the searing heat.

In Porto Alegre, the furthest south of the cities hosting World Cup games, temperatures can dip to as low as ten degrees centigrade in June and July – it's easy to forget that it's winter south of the equator.

Preserving playing conditions in an international event requires special efforts, as the wear and tear of constant football can take its toll on surfaces.

Football pitches in Brazil are generally based on Bermuda grass, STRI reports, but overseeding with a special ryegrass was necessary to prevent surfaces from deteriorating in the World Cup. 

A specialist turf grass manufactured by DLF Trifolium was used at many stadiums. Trialled extensively in the UK, the grass was tested in Brazil by both international advisors and local sports grass specialists.

"We have been working on this event for three years in close cooperation with grass specialists and the constructors responsible for the pitches. We are in no doubt that this World Cup will present top class grass pitches," said the firm's export manager, Jan Gottlieb.

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) was responsible for overseeing the pitch preparation process in Brazil. It ensured the special grass mix was available at all locations hosting World Cup games.

Maristela Kuhn, an agronomist and grass specialist who advised the LOC, said a crucial challenge facing the organisers had been to find a grass that could cope with the differences in climate and geography around Brazil.

"To secure top quality pitches from kick-off, and all the way up to the final on July 13, overseeding the pitches with a Perennial ryegrass mixture has been an important part of the strategy and preparations," Ms Kuhn added.

It may be too late to save your lawn from the miniature Messis and Neymars currently practising their skills with hopes of becoming the next international football star. But if you want to prepare for the European championships in 2016, it might be worth following the lead of Ms Kuhn and the Brazilian LOC.

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