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Six Questions Every Golf Course Should Be Asking About Water – Part 2

This is part two of a six-part series on golf course water use. Read Part 1.

Question 2: Is our irrigation system capable of applying water as efficiently as possible? Are we taking advantage of technology to reduce our overall water requirement?

A common term that is used regarding outdoor water use is “water conservation,” which implies that resources are being wasted and there are opportunities to use less. While that may be true in some situations, the terms “uniformity” and “efficiency” are better when discussing golf course irrigation systems, which indicates resources are managed in the best possible way to avoid waste while producing the desired results.

Just because the irrigation system is operational does not mean it is uniform or efficient. Uniformity has to do with the design, installation and maintenance of the system to ensure uniform coverage whenever a sprinkler is in operation. Efficiency has to do with management and making decisions about when, where and how much water to apply. While the distribution uniformity of golf course irrigation systems is never 100%, an achievable goal is 80% distribution uniformity by ensuring proper sprinkler spacing and nozzle selection for the make and model of sprinkler, and that the sprinklers are level with the surrounding terrain.

Once the system is uniform, steps can be taken to improve water use efficiency by using data and measurements to make more informed irrigation decisions. Great strides have been made with portable and in-ground moisture-sensing equipment, on-site weather stations, aerial drone imagery and other technology to help superintendents measure and monitor turfgrass water loss and replace what is needed without overwatering. Many of these devices can be linked with irrigation programming software to accurately schedule irrigation.

There are also wetting agents and other products that improve water penetration and retention in the rootzone helping to maximize water availability to the plant. Technology is constantly improving and making it possible to reduce overall water use while still maintaining turf quality.

Coming up next: Question 3—Do we have an irrigation plan that efficiently manages current water resources?

TAGS: Golf Course, Water Management