Forest Green Rovers had a cutting edge for their recent final home game of the season with a new addition to the team – the ETMower from Etesia.
The robotic mower puts Forest Green Rovers in the same league as Bayern Munich, who also cares for pitch and planet using the same revolutionary technology. The state-of-the-art robotic mower uses GPS technology to automatically mow the pitch – saving groundsmen up to 50% of their working week or over 100 days of labour – and even sends a text if it runs into trouble.
Powered from 100% green electricity from solar panels on The New Lawn stadium roof, the eco-friendly mower will trim the club’s carbon footprint as well as the grass, and can be used for other sporting facilities such as rugby and cricket as well as landscape operations.
Forest Green Rovers is becoming a test-bed for the Sustainability in Sport foundation which has been established by FGR Chairman Dale Vince and former-Manchester United player Gary Neville – demonstrating the best green tactics to recommend to sports clubs across the UK.
The club has already scored several green goals by installing solar power on the stadium roof, recycling pitch water via a water harvesting system and launching the first ever meat-free (and low carbon) football menu.
Etesia has chosen Forest Green as the UK pioneer for their fleet of emission-free pitch equipment. Forest Green Rovers Groundsman Stuart Ward is no stranger to innovation and is working towards creating Britain’s first organic football pitch at The New Lawn stadium. Last year, he also became the first person in the Britain to trial Etesia’s Bahia M2E electric ride-on mower, an innovation now being tested by the Church Commission in Westminster.
Ward said: “It’s really exciting to be trialling these products, the robot saves me time and there’s no more dirty fuel or noise to deal with.
“At the moment, we are a Blue Square Premier club, so my time is always stretched. The time I used to spend mowing can now be utilised tending to the pitch in other ways to make it the best possible surface for the players.”
The new robotic mower will even help the club reach its target of creating a 100% organic pitch, by creating organic mulch which fertilizes the pitch as it works. Etesia General Manager Les Malin said: “We feel FGR are setting the best example for other clubs, not just in football but in all sports. Forest Green Rovers is the first football club in the country to use electric and robotic mowing for its pitch.”
The last home game of the season against Darlington celebrated another step forward for ‘game changing’ green innovation in sport, and the potential doesn’t stop there. Etesia hopes that Forest Green’s pioneering approach will spread across UK industry, leading to some surprising comparisons between the pitches, farms and gardens of Britain and Bayern Munich FC.
There are three models in the range – the ETm44 for work up to 5,000m², ETm65 for work up to 9,000m² and the ETm105 for work up to 20,000m². Robot mowers reduce the cost of grass maintenance considerably, not only in terms of labour and maintenance costs, but also by cutting your energy bill. Mulch mowing is 100% natural: it does away with the need to gather up, store and dispose of the cuttings, it fertilises the soil, and it helps the lawn to stand up to drought conditions. CO2 emissions are much lower than for conventional powered mowers.