Minimising water wastage this summer in 3 easy steps

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu July 9, 2018 06:29

Amid talks of hosepipe bans, Reesink Turfcare’s irrigation manager, Robert Jackson, presents three easy steps to more responsible irrigation management

  1. CHECK YOUR IRRIGATION SYSTEM

As well as regular routine maintenance, it is wise to undertake a thorough check of your irrigation system every five years or so to avoid losses and ensure all is running smoothly. This provides a good opportunity to assess how the system is performing and consider what improvements could be made to save water and keep turf in optimum condition. Having an old system could mean losing up to 25 percent of water. This is not only a needless waste of water and money that could be prevented, but it also puts the health of your turf at risk.

The most common issue is negligence. Too often an aging system has not been installed to a suitable standard or is no longer set up properly for the modified course it needs to irrigate. As a result, it is not performing properly: cables that aren’t potted correctly, sprinklers that aren’t set up properly, debris in the pipework from installation and incorrect data within the controller are all common situations.

It’s why we at Reesink always promote allocating the time and care needed for the installation of each and every system. It’s important the supplier and installer oversees everything to ensure the standard of installation matches the quality of the product.

It’s not always down to the course manager to identify the issues. Good quality equipment can be relied upon to share the job. I highly recommend a system with the software capabilities of performing an automatic communication health check every time the system is operated. Any decoders not communicating are highlighted red on the course map and listed in the daily course report for the course manager to review on arrival. Toro successfully designed this capability into its SitePro software many years ago and it’s changed very little since, and that’s thanks to its continued success – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

Toro’s Lynx irrigation control system software provides greenkeeping professionals with all the information they need to better manage their water and resources

  1. UTILISE TECHNOLOGY

The control system acts as the brain of your irrigation system, gathering important information which determines where water will be sent and how much. Without a fully functioning control system, your entire irrigation system could cease to work. But there’s no point in settling for one that is merely ‘functional’, for longer-term benefits it is worth choosing an intuitive control system. Technology has moved on so quickly these last few years that this investment could cut your job by half, while saving huge volumes of water.

An intuitive control system such as Toro Lynx Central Control System gives the operator access to comprehensive information such as weather and pump station set up, sprinkler performance, intelligent field controller data and soil sensor levels.

Reesink Turfcare’s irrigation manager, Robert Jackson

This makes a world of difference because knowledge, as they say, is power. In unpredictable weather – from surprise heat waves, to sudden downpours – having an intuitive control system allows you to respond to unexpected changes in real-time. Knowing the exact conditions your turf faces will lead to more informed and ecological decisions, as you will only use the water required to sustain it.

Plus, this sort of intelligent control system can be accurately tailored to precise conditions and requirements, meaning it will respond exactly to the needs of specific areas and therefore allow optimal management of water. This is integral to good irrigation practice as every area of turf is different.

Applying a set amount to all parts of your course or pitch is a fool’s errand as salinity, temperature and moisture levels will vary widely across your site and constantly change due to external environmental circumstances.

For detecting changes in moisture, temperature and salinity levels, soil monitoring systems are the way forward.

An example of this is Toro’s Turf Guard Wireless Soil Monitoring System, which records invaluable data to enable more informed adjustments to your irrigation schedule which, in turn, means only the necessary amount of water is used to maintain optimum turf health.

As well as water-saving benefits, these systems can help prevent browning and diseases spreading because the user is alerted to problems such as drainage issues and turf stress.

One of the biggest benefits of soil monitoring systems is they prevent over watering – an inefficient use of water that inhibits root growth and is detrimental to overall plant well-being.

Under watering is also avoided as dry areas can be detected long before the turf is impacted.

Thanks to the important information recorded by a soil monitoring system no more or less than the right amount of water is applied, meaning you have even more control over water consumption and sward health.

If you don’t already benefit from a soil monitoring system, I’d recommend investing in a wireless network. The installation of sensors is quick and easy and they can be placed anywhere.

Should you ever want to change the position of one, it is a simple job without the requirement to wrestle with wires or dig deep trenches.

This means sensors can be installed or moved with minimal disturbance to play and, once in the ground, players won’t even notice them.

Infinity sprinklers deliver all the quality benefits of increased efficiency, enhanced course appearance and improved playing conditions, for which Toro is renowned. They also have the added benefit of ‘Smart Access’, which makes every element – big or small, mechanical or electrical – easily accessible from the top of the unit

  1. PERFORM REGULAR SPRINKLER MAINTENANCE

Another simple way that water can be saved is by routinely maintaining sprinklers. Checking that controller data matches sprinkler setup in the field can make a huge difference to the accuracy of an irrigation system. It sounds obvious, but I’ve seen countless systems that are not properly synced up to sprinklers.

The type of sprinkler used can also make a huge difference to responsible water usage.

Like any other aspect of irrigation technology, sprinklers have evolved too.

By using modern sprinklers that have nozzle options and adjustment capabilities, water can be applied exactly where it is needed.

You’d be surprised by just how much updating old sprinklers to new can contribute to water use reduction and improve turf condition.

Even just replacing ageing heads can have surprising results.

In conclusion Robert says that know-how assisted by innovative technology, scheduled system checks, frequent and thorough irrigation maintenance routines all add up to more control over water usage.

And, of course, the advantages of using water more efficiently are great: it is more environmentally friendly, plants are healthier, surfaces are more aesthetically pleasing, playability is improved, and it will likely save a lot of money too!

With environmental pressures becoming more prevalent, irrigated sites must be seen to be managing water responsibly – especially if they are also drawing it from the mains. Applying just the right amount of water is a no-brainer. Every drop counts, and every drop saved benefits you, the players, visitors and the environment.

There are those who have completely embraced water sustainability by using boreholes or reservoirs for their irrigation, and it’s great to see more people in the industry moving towards such long-term, sustainable irrigation methods. But it’s not just these large leaps that make a difference.

Get the basics of irrigation management and maintenance right and water wastage can be minimised.

For a chat about your own irrigation system needs, Reesink can be contacted via info@reesinkturfcare.co.uk

 

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu July 9, 2018 06:29
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