The importance of irrigation for well being is being highlighted at the IAL conference in Melbourne in 2016. Every week, thousands of people enjoy a catch up with mates and a therapy session by either hitting the cover off a golf ball, or looking for one or two in the rough.
It is often taken for granted how well maintained, lush and green some golf courses appear, and a beautiful environment no doubt adds to the attractiveness of this weekly therapy session. Golf Course superintendents are responsible for making the fairways and greens, green, all within a water allowance and operating budget.
Pumping water for irrigation requires power and, in Western Australia, uses the precious shared resource of groundwater (which is also a significant source of potable water). With a drying climate, pressure to use water efficiently is a must, and demonstrating or validating efficiency is not far behind.
Using tools to fine tune irrigation can give confidence in the practices that are occurring over the golf course, and will form a record of practice to demonstrate efficiency. A wildeye soil moisture system, recently installed at Wembley Golf Course in the Town of Cambridge, has done just that for Golf Course Superintendent Darren Wilson.
Darren uses changes in evaporation and had a hand held probe to help guide soil moisture, so was already doing all the right things. However, wildeye’s two sensors measure and log percentage soil moisture each 15 minutes, allowing Darren see the full story and fine tune his irrigation. A probe is placed in the rootzone to show the plant available water status and can be used to determine duration between irrigations. A second probe, below the rootzone, can be used to to fine tune irrigation depth to minimise drainage and ensure any water applied stays in the root zone where intended.
“Any system like wildeye, that can reduce pumping hours and assist me in using water efficiently is useful.” Commented Darren. “To be able to backup your experience and see where the water is moving through the profile via a remote website helps ensure guesswork is taken out of the equation”
Wildeye was installed below a fairway at Wembley Golf Course with just a 100mm valve box left as a sign that it is there. It transmits the data collected via the mobile phone network, is waterproof to an IP68 rating and needs very little signal strength to work. This allows below surface installations.
The wildeye website provides guidance for different soil types and crops, and with its beautifully simple web interface, interpretation of data could not be easier. Data can be viewed on any web-enabled device from any location with internet access.
Darren has minimised drainage as can been seen by the minimal movement of soil moisture at the drainage indication sensor, (installed at a depth of 25cm). The impact of a rain event is clearly visible towards the end of the graph, with water passing both probes. But using the wildeye to check soil moisture, the next irrigation can be scheduled when moisture has fallen and irrigation is needed.
For more infromation on wildeye see www.mywildeye.com and next time you are at Wembley Golf Course, tell us which fairway you think the wildeye is installed and email your answer to Rohan Prince: email@example.com