Irrigating the Golf Course

FullSizeRender(10)The use of water is a critical and vital element in managing the golf course. With an increasing pressure on resources and sustainability the use of water has never been more important.

Here at East Berkshire there is irrigation to the greens, approaches and tees.

The amount of water applied is measured in mm’s rather than minutes. The advantage of this is the computer system will ensure the correct amount of water is delivered to each green. This is dependant on a number of variables: the green size, number of irrigation heads around each green, distance between heads and nozzle size and spacing.

The irrigation system is capable of running different cycles and amounts of water dependant on conditions. As an exampe the system will deliver the specified irrigation over two applications, or ‘run times’ through the night. Running 2mm twice rather than 4mm once avoids excessive puddling, wash outs and surface run off.

In general it is better to soak the greens heavily once or twice a week rather than apply water each night as this encourages a strong root development. The result of this is a healthier stronger plant that requires less water not more.

moisture meterTo enable us to manage the amount of water applied to the golf course accurately we use a moisture meter. Readings are taken from individual greens each morning and recorded. This data along with the days E.T. (evapotranspiration rate) is then collated and used to form the basis for the irrigation program/cycle.

Evapotranspiration (ET) is a term used to describe the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the ground to the atmosphere. Transpiration accounts for the movement of water within a plant and the subsequent loss of water as vapor through stomata (small openings that allow for oxygen and water exchange between the plant and the atmosphere) in its leaves.

We will hand water localised ‘hot spots’ on each green to compliment the main irrigation. This allows a targeted amount of water to be used in specific areas identified by the moisture readings. Importantly this means little water is wasted and what is used is targeted effectively in relieving stress.

For competitions we aim to maintain the greens at around 20% moisture. This is the optimum moisture content for the soil profile we have here without stressing the plant and sward unnecessarily. There is a fine balance between maintaining adequate moisture in the soil profile and providing firm dry quick surfaces. The  use of the irrigation is complimented by a comprehensive aeration and wetting agent application program.

Utilizing the moisture meter allows the greens can be managed and fine tuned far more effectively which saves resources and money and produces better consistent playing surfaces.

 

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