Date: 13.10.2023

A Comment - product manager Benedikt Luster-Haggeney

Every greenkeeper, professional and amateur sportsperson with points of contact to turf knows the debate concerning artificial versus natural turf grass surfaces. Even in my home village with a small sports club, which has both opportunities, the debate or rather the complaints, starts with the change in autumn when the natural turf grass pitch is no longer ‘playable’. There are many reasons in favour of artificial turf, if not more reasons against it. In a small sports club, it even makes sense because of the amount of playing hours and the lack of resources, mostly financial resources regard to skilled labours.

Starting with the 2010 Football World Cup, which brought the topic of artificial turf onto the world stage for the first time, causing a shock for the turf industry, the topic has become an integral part of the sports sector. In recent years, this discussion has neither decreased nor increased worldwide. This is reflected in the increasing number of articles and papers mainly concerning injuries susceptibility. Not entirely unfounded in the fact that more and more associations, with the NFL Player Association (NFLPA) leading the way, are coming out in favour of the natural playing surface. JC Tretter the NFLPA president wrote in his blog following statement: ‘Agronomically, natural grass field surfaces are possible everywhere’. I would like to give short comment on this statement and what we as DSV seeds doing every day to make this possible.

For many decades, we are breeding for those turf varieties, which best fit to the intended directions of use. Especially the varieties for the sports sector with the parameters wear tolerance, the ability to recover quickly after stress and the rapid establishment after reseeding are main objectives. In addition to these characteristics, site influences play also an important role in the breeding process. Here, disease resistance, adaption to shade, drought/heat tolerance and winter hardiness are particularly important, as they are often prevalent in extreme locations. And we don't stop there, looking to the future with the expected restricted use of pesticide and fertilizers we see a lot of potential within our breeding work. Looking now on those species and varieties that combines the desired parameters under extensive condition is already part of our daily work.
Next to our breeding, the management of natural grass surfaces is very important: What has to be done at what time, what action or what change is required. For this purpose, science, industry and end-users are strongly networked with each other worldwide in order to find solutions for the challenges. As part of the science and industry community, we have a good overview of the possibilities and upcoming challenges.

We can push the boundaries and with a constantly development of varieties in intelligent turf mixtures together with site-adapted management, the challenges of a natural lawn everywhere are more likely to be met. Many examples from the world of sport prove that a natural lawn is possible everywhere, that the effort remains low and that this is still possible in the future - we will make sure of that.

Sources referred to comment:

2020, JC Tretter; Only Natural Grass Can Level The NFL’s Playing Field (Link:

Further interesting articles

2023, J. Cui (NBC news); Turf wars: Aaron Rodgers‘ injury reignites debate over artificial grass use (Link:

2022, JC Tretter; NFL Player Health & Safety Lies Beneath the Surface (Link: