July is Smart Irrigation Month. However, regardless of the month, water conservation is essential. Here are some great ways to conserve!

Why conserve water?

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

Conservation with Rain Bird

Rain Bird offers tips for saving water, here are their recommendations for golf 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.

Conservation Tips from Scott Knowles

“Saving water not only lowers your expenses but also helps deflect criticism from environmentalists. Many consider golf courses a waste of resources and a danger to the environment. Unless the operator is just doing a bad job, the opposite is true. In fact, it has been proven the biodiversity and environmental health of a golf course are better than neighboring parklands” says President 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.” 

Check out RainBird’s Central Control Systems 

Irrigating during rain is a huge culprit for wasting water. Rain Bird guarantees a real-time response for their systems. Their Central Control Technologies are will issue commands to stop irrigation when sufficient rainfall has occurred. 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.

2. Soil Moisture Sensors

Rain Bird also offers 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.

Since a golf course is a large property and soil classifications and exposures will vary from point to point, several soil moisture sensors will be needed to accurately analyze water requirements.

3. Distribution Uniformity

Rain Bird sprinkler nozzles make it easier to provide a good Distribution Uniformity (DU). Poor uniformity means excess irrigation to cover dry spots in the sprinkler pattern, and thus over-watering happens. Scott advises the following:

Wolf Creek offers a variety of Rain Bird Impact Golf Rotors
  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 and tear on 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 on accurate rainfall measurement.

Rain Bird® Rain Can with patented Rain Watch™
  • 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

Patented Rain Bird® RainWatch™ technology maximizes water efficiency while minimizing system wear and tear, through intelligent, real-time decision-making based on accurate rainfall measurement. Weather sensors report actual rainfall amounts to the central control unit and it records how much natural water was made available to the turf. Schedules can be adjusted using that information to help reduce the application of irrigation water. It can also shut down irrigation once a specified amount of water has been reached. This way, when enough rain has fallen, the central will cancel further irrigation for that day.

 “As simple as it seems, pausing and/or halting irrigation driven by the input of a rain sensor saves considerable amounts of 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-round, 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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