While water conservation should be on everyone’s mind in the irrigation business every month, July is Smart Irrigation Month. Regardless of the month, we cannot pretend like water conservation is no longer important.

Why save water?

“If water is being purchased for your course, you already understand why water conservation is important.  If water is sourced from your course property (lakes, streams, etc) there is still a cost to pump it.  Every hour a pump station operates equates to more dollars for power. As important, more dollars for maintenance expense,” President Scott Knowles of Wolf Creek Company explains. 

Conservation with Rain Bird

Rain Bird offers 25 tips for saving water, here is what they recommend for courses:

  1. Conduct regular maintenance audits.
  2. Check the height and level of each sprinkler.
  3. Verify database settings.
  4. Maintain the golf course weather station.
  5. Monitor your pump station cycling.

“Saving water also helps deflect criticisms from environmentalists. Many consider golf courses a waste of resource and a danger to the environment. Unless the operator is just doing a bad job, the opposite is true. In fact, it has often been proven the bio diversity and environmental health of a golf course is better than neighboring parklands,” says President Scott Knowles.

Conservation Tips from Scott Knowles

Scott recommends the following Rain Bird products to help with your course’s conservation efforts:

1. Central System with True 2-Way Communications 

Scott gives a great example, explaining,“Real time communications between your central and field devices is like a general being able to hear and see what his troops are doing in battle. History proves generals who know what’s going on in real time, win battles.” Because the central is in charge of the entire system in real-time, it can then issue commands to stop irrigation when sufficient rainfall has occurred. Irrigating during rain is a huge culprit for wasting water. Rain Bird guarantees real-time response for their systems. Rain Bird states, “Only Rain Bird systems offer continuous two-way communication. It allows you to continuously and automatically optimize the performance of your system, from greater pump efficiency to shorter water windows and minimum water usage. By receiving data and making instant adjustments when needed, it also protects your course from damage if a major issue ever occurs.”

2. Soil Moisture Sensors

RB has a soil moisture sensor that will report back how much water is already in the plant root zone.  If enough, the central control will cut back or eliminate irrigation.  Measuring soil moisture is the best way to know how much irrigation is required.

Although, there are issues to be considered.  Example, a golf course is a large property.  Soil classifications and exposures vary from point to point.  Several soil moisture sensors will be needed to more accurately analyze water requirements.

3. Distribution Uniformity

The nozzles for the Rain Bird sprinklers make it easier to have a higher Distribution Uniformity (DU). Poor uniformity means excess irrigation to cover dry spots in the sprinkler pattern. Thus over watering larger areas to get enough water to the smaller dry spots. Scott advises the following:

  1. Uniformity is important to reduce the amount of water applied and the amount of time it takes to apply it. Every hour of system run-time means power costs and wear for your pumps.
  2. High DU is accomplished by spacing the sprinklers within their sweet spot for each available nozzle and operating them at the optimum pressure.
  3. Good DU is the first step to have an irrigation system that is a tool for water conservation.  Without high DU, the operator has no choice but to run the system longer to fill in dry spots.

4. RainWatch™

Patented Rain Bird® RainWatch™ technology maximizes water efficiency, while minimizing system wear and tear, through intelligent, real-time decision-making based accurate rainfall measurement.

  • The industry’s first active rainfall monitoring and response system.
  • The only system designed to automatically react to rainfall and adjust sprinkler application rates to take full advantage of natural rain, thereby eliminating over‑watering.
  • Saves water and electricity, while keeping the course drier and more playable, by pausing, adjusting or canceling irrigation in the event of rainfall.
  • Results in reduced wear and tear on irrigation system components.
  • An integral part of Rain Bird Central Control Software versions 4.0 and higher.

5. Weather Sensors for Golf Course Irrigation

Weather sensors supply actual rainfall amounts to the central control so it knows how much natural water was made available to the turf. Schedules can be adjusted using such information to help reduce the irrigation water applied. It can also shutdown irrigation at a determined amount. Once enough rain has fallen, the central will cancel irrigation schedules for that day. Patented Rain Bird® RainWatch™ technology maximizes water efficiency, while minimizing system wear and tear, through intelligent, real-time decision-making based accurate rainfall measurement.

 “As simple as it seems, pausing and/or halting irrigation from input of a rain sensor saves considerable water. Sensors also free the Superintendent to make irrigation cycle choices without thinking about future rainfall,” Scott explained.

Water conservation should be on the minds of every superintendent year around, not just during July. Contact your local Wolf Creek Company rep with any questions on how you can better manage water on your course!

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