Toro Distributor Reesink Turfcare’s Irrigation Manager
Reading time: 10 minutes
Inside Irrigating fairways
Ten years ago, when choosing an irrigation system, to keep costs down and reduce water consumption, greens and tees would be prioritised and the fairways were often left for the weather to cover, says Robert Jackson, division manager for Reesink Hydro-Scapes, an official distributor of Toro Irrigation in the UK.
However, now, with the UK experiencing a consistently warming climate and extreme weather spells, fairways across the country are burning off and drying out. Here Robert considers the new need for water on the UK’s fairways.
In previous years, the UK could be relied upon to produce enough rain in the year to keep the fairways adequately watered and looking decent throughout the year. So, when it came to choosing an irrigation system and considering the cost, many clubs chose to reduce the area of irrigated turf by excluding the fairways from being on the system - or at least not updating that section of the irrigation system.
But the climate’s not the same anymore and course managers are having to rethink that strategy.
Overseeding for example, once the seed has germinated it needs to be kept wet regularly or else it dies. With the lack of rain and irrigation, large expense goes to waste when the seed dies. Water is also needed to correctly apply so many products, not just seed – fertiliser and wetting agents too. Wetting agents are a vital ingredient in keeping turf alive by holding and distributing water around the soil profile so it is readily available for the grass plant to use. Similarly, without water, fertiliser was wasted as it wasn’t being broken down into the soil profile and made available to the grass through the roots. All products are expensive so if the money is being spent, they must be applied properly and oftentimes with water. It goes to show how an irrigation system is as much a management tool as opposed to just a watering system.
So, the focus swings back round to irrigation. Of course, there will always be a consideration of sustainability - when you add the fairways into the irrigation equation, water usage goes up significantly. A big part of being sustainable is getting the most out of the products applied and using water to correctly input the product prevents wastage. We found product was not being put out on the course last year due to lack of rain which in turn reduced turf quality. But this is where efficient irrigation comes to the fore and thinking of ways you can apply water while being responsible.
Toro has plenty of ways of doing this. It’s been hard at work for years investing in technology to ensure responsible irrigation options are available, almost like it was foreseeing this exact situation. With the hard work done, it’s simply down to clubs now to decide which route works best for them to solve this problem and prepare them for what experts are saying is only a trend set to continue.
For the systems that are old and failing, of course, a new system would be the best bet. Allowing the fairways to be linked to the rest of the system, put on the same cloud-based remote central control and being able to identify issues and perform critical diagnostics from any device, with a system such as Toro Lynx central control, would bring complete peace of mind and can be integrated into existing irrigation systems.
No other system gives you exact control over watering times and amounts per sprinkler.Built-in fail-safes, like the ability to run system health checks, help avoid potentially costly problems. Lynx provides incomparable reliability and the ultimate in efficiency.
A sprinkler renovation can be made without the need for mini-excavators and massive disruption. 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. It’s not just the casing, which is replaced, but specific irrigation needs, such as arc retention to achieve a strict start-stop without unwanted movement, eliminating dwell points and subsequent pooling ensuring even distribution, are addressed.
So, while it's true that there is an investment now to be made, it is surprising the difference that effective, accurate irrigation can make in the long-term, the savings in water can be huge. In a world of unknowns, including the drastically changing weather, know that by choosing Toro you're guaranteed an easy and cost-effective solution to dry fairways.