Stories & Inspiration

Will Automower® robotic lawn mower beat conventional mowing?

“It’ll be very interesting to see the results. Can Automower® make a difference on a football pitch? And if that’s the case, what are the benefits?” The quote comes from Simeon Liljenberg, Head Groundsman at Sweden’s national football stadium, Friends Arena. And the results he's anticipating will come from a test that's about to be carried out, where a pitch will be mowed by a professional Automower® robotic mower on one half, and a ride-on rotary mower on the other. Which will produce the best football turf?

“Mowing is very important for a healthy football pitch”

The mowing challenge will take place over three months at Månsarp IF football club's ground, outside Jönköping in southern Sweden. An Automower® 550 robotic lawn mower will cut one half of the pitch, while a rotary mower will run on the other. The latter is the most common type of lawn mower at the vast majority of pitches around Europe (except at football clubs at higher levels, where cylinder mowers often are used). “Continuous mowing is a very important part of maintaining a healthy pitch, which makes Automower® an interesting choice. And since the robotic mower uses razor-sharp blades, it’s almost like cutting with a pair of scissors. How will all this affect the grass quality?” asks Simeon Liljenberg.

Automower sports content - story 1 photos

Visible and invisible results

Husqvarna is performing the test in cooperation with Liljenberg, who’s been involved in designing it. Simeon will closely monitor and evaluate it alongside Michael Axelsson, product expert at Husqvarna’s department for robotic mowing.  Cameras will be installed to film continuously while the robotic mower and the rotary mower cut the grass on each side, to show the effects that the two mowing techniques have on the pitch. “We’ll also measure a number of important ‘hidden figures’ such as root depth, traction, grass coverage, leaf width, soil compaction, labour time, energy consumption – and also how the grass quality affects how far the ball rolls, and how high it bounces” says Michael Axelsson.
Automower sports content - story 1 photos

Series of articles on sports grass

“I’m very excited about the test and to see the results, to find out if there are any synergies: if the roots have become longer, the grass healthier, and so on. Simply put, what effect Automower® might have on the quality of the grass,” says Simeon Liljenberg enthusiastically. The test will also be used to kick off a series of articles that explore in depth what makes perfect sports grass. Together with Simeon, Husqvarna wants to share its knowledge and inspire football clubs to create the best football pitches possible. “I'm looking forward to sharing what I have learned from my years working in the sports turf business” Simeon says, adding: “You can achieve amazing results with pretty basic measures, and make just about any football pitch as almost as good as a top championship pitch.”
About Simeon Lilienberg
  • Lives: In the small town of Nossebro northeast of Gothenburg in Sweden, with his wife and two children.
  • Education: Turf Grass Management at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
  • Occupation: Sports grass expert.
  • Special assignments: Simeon works as Head Groundsman at the Swedish national football stadium, Friends Arena. He’s also pitch consultant for the Swedish Football Federation, inspecting and approving pitches used for Sweden’s highest football league.
  • Favourite football team: Tottenham Hotspur FC, London, UK.
Automower sports content - story 1 photos

Three quick questions

What got you into professional sports grass maintenance?
“I helped out as an instructor at a golf club and wasn’t happy with how the greenkeeper took care of the course. That experience made me interested in finding out how to manage sports grass in a better way.”

What’s the best part of the job?
“Great variety – everything from checking seeds and soil to mechanical work on machines. I also appreciate being outside a lot, working with nature – not against it.”

How about being Head Groundsman at Friends Arena?
“I’ve always been interested in football, so it’s a real honour. My team and I often have to work against the clock, but I really like the atmosphere, and finding good, sustainable solutions quickly.”