Toro Irrigation: Every penny – and drop – counts

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick June 27, 2020 05:13

When it comes to irrigation in the current climate, two things have never been truer: every penny counts and every drop counts.

While forecasts, budgets and plans for 2020 have been thrown a huge curveball due to Covid-19, it doesn’t mean all plans for the year have to be shelved or put on hold. What it does mean however is that now more than ever, if you’re going to invest, make sure you’re well informed beforehand.

And with temperatures already soaring, making sure your irrigation is as efficient and effective as it can be during what some are anticipating will be a year reminiscent to the record-equalling temperatures of 2018, is vital.

Robert Jackson, water division sales manager at Reesink Turfcare, says it’s tempting to regard the updating of an irrigation system as something that can only be carried out by specialists, with disruption to play and revenues for months on end. In some instances that will be the case. An aging irrigation system could well be beyond economic upgrading, extension or repair. But what about a more recent system, installed within the last twenty years or so, that is now starting to show signs of wear and tear; is a bit of an upgrade possible and worthwhile? With Toro systems, the short answer has always been a qualified yes.

Know what you have

The type of upgrade and the equipment installed all impact on what can be achieved and how much it will cost. A well-designed ‘modern’ system installed to a good standard should be ‘upgradeable’ and the costs need not be prohibitive.

There’s a misconception that you have to replace existing sprinklers with a like-for-like alternative, with no chance to upgrade to the current technology and designs, but this is certainly not the case with Toro.

When Toro developed its irrigation strategy, one of the early thoughts was longevity, so it should therefore be no surprise that Toro sprinklers dating all the way back to the 1960s are easily updated when clubs look to renovate their irrigation.

The existing sprinkler body is simply fitted with the latest Toro head technology not just replacing new for old, but for more precision, accuracy, efficiency and economy.

In the case of Toro pop-up sprinklers, the company’s 600 series that launched in the US back in 1967, and 700 series first seen in the 1990s, can be easily interchanged with Toro sprinkler head conversion assemblies, in as little as 60 seconds.

The same applies to the more recent DT series and 835 series, too.

Of course, modern pumps and revised underground pipe networks will be needed over time, but it is not necessarily a given that this needs doing right away. For now, renovating your irrigation system may well do, and has the big benefit of not being as disruptive or as costly as you may think.

More than just any old upgrade

What upgrading with Toro brings is real innovation to your irrigation. Every replacement sprinkler on offer, whether that be Infinity sprinklers or the R series, brings with it design improvements to your renovation. You aren’t just replacing the plastic casing, you can address specific irrigation issues, the elimination of a frustrating dwell point and subsequent pooling for example. You can start making the most of every drop of water.

Infinity sprinklers, Turf Guard in-ground moisture sensors, and the Lynx central control system software, allow users to coordinate all of their systems and data to optimise their overall watering strategy and can be integrated into existing irrigation systems. Irrigation systems can also be made more user-friendly and future upgrades are less reliant on digging up hardware around your course.

Modern systems generally consist of a computer-based central controller and a series of interconnected satellites or decoders spread around the course. One-way systems communicate with these satellites via the central computer, two-way systems adding extra data that allows the sprinkler to communicate information back to the system to warn of malfunctions, and  such like. This can really help over a large course,  doing away with the need to actually go out and  check that individual sprinklers are operating as they should.

This is not to suggest that all you need to do is download the latest software. You will almost certainly need to buy complimentary hardware to control various valves and invest in sensors that alert you to ground moisture and other data. But it is surprising how much technology on the market can be integrated into existing irrigation systems.
Take Toro’s Lynx control system, for example. This software provides greenkeeping and grounds professionals with all the irrigation information needed to better manage their water and resources. It is the only PC-based control system for golf and irrigated sports venues available from Toro because it really does do everything. It features real-time reactions to weather station and pumpset events, plus in-depth reports, intelligent diagnostics and high-resolution map graphics, providing intuitive control for the operator.

In fact, some have credited Lynx, and Infinity sprinklers for that matter, with bringing industry buzzwords ‘interchangeable’ and ‘future-proof’ irrigation to life. The two products are a combination recently endorsed by St Andrews Castle Course, at the home of golf, in Scotland. Moving from Toro Site Pro to Lynx GAC software and from Flex to Infinity sprinklers, the club’s upgrade brings the most up-to-date technology available on the market to this majestic clifftop course.

Nobody wants disruption

New sprinkler designs such as Toro Infinity can drop into existing systems that are decades old without the need for mini-excavators and massive disruption. They have been designed to be upgraded from the top down, with the Smart Access feature allowing future upgrades to be faster, easier and cheaper.

Renovating an irrigation system is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to improve the turf’s appearance, playability and appeal.

Costs will clearly vary according to the geography, the size of the course and local climate, but basically anything that can genuinely improve what you already have economically, with minimal disruption, should be seriously looked at.

Robert Jackson

 

How long can you expect a golf course irrigation system to last?

In the USA, a number of surveys and studies have been conducted to try and establish how long a golf course irrigation system can last. The figures in the table are for interest only and they also need to be put into some context. The more arid regions of the US can see irrigation systems used far more extensively than even the most worked irrigation set ups in the UK. But it is interesting to note the core hardware, namely the pipes and pumps, could last 30 years in those conditions. The cost of adding new sprinklers and control software is, when put into context, a viable way of keeping these systems up-to-date.

Reesink Turfcare is an official distributor in the UK and Ireland for Toro irrigation products for the golf, sport and amenity sectors. For further information call 01480 226800, email info@reesinkturfcare.co.uk, or visit reesinkturfcare.co.uk

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick June 27, 2020 05:13
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