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October 2018

Irrigation Certification Improves Water Management

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By Ted Horton, CGCS, Senior Consulting Superintendent, BrightView Golf Maintenance

Management of irrigation schedules is the single most difficult task that a golf course superintendent faces on a daily basis. This was true long before irrigation control systems were automated and computerized and remains so, even with the advent of the modern irrigation technology. As a superintendent, I found that I couldn’t go home until I had made the “water or not to water” and “how much” decision each afternoon. I found myself virtually bound to the job until I could come to grips with that confirmation.  Many days, I would be forced to pull the trigger in frustration, not convinced that I was making the best possible decision, but at some point I just had to follow my “gut feelings.”

With this consciously in mind, I found time to take a seminar for golf course irrigation auditor certification. “The Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor Program” is a day and a half course with fieldwork followed by an exam. The class provides step-by-step procedures that assist in improving water management by generating irrigation schedules and tracking actual water use. Yes, there is training to perhaps replace my old gut decision-making process. 

 These procedures include methods that teach you how to evaluate irrigation system performance in terms of distribution uniformity (how evenly) and precipitation rate (how fast.) Results are then combined to determine the plant/water requirement and to calculate an efficient irrigation schedule. I wish it was that easy! It isn’t — but, the knowledge one gains from the class clearly illustrates why one setting doesn’t fit all situations.

The best irrigation efficiency is achieved when the irrigation system is performing as well as possible coupled with proper scheduling based on local weather patterns and plant needs. Improved irrigation efficiencies may result in:

• BETTER PLAYING CONDITIONS
• REDUCED MAINTENANCE
• REDUCED WATER USE
• IMPROVED TURFGRASS APPEARANCE — FEWER WET OR DRY SPOTS
• COST SAVINGS ON WATER AND POWER
• REDUCTION OF RUNOFF
• REDUCTION OF WATER LOST BELOW THE ROOT ZONE (DEEP PERCOLATION)
• REDUCED FERTILIZER AND CHEMICAL USAGE
• REDUCTION OF PUMP STATION OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE COSTS

I am not necessarily advocating that all golf course irrigation decision makers become certified auditors. But, I do believe that the class provides the decision maker with the capability of more accurately auditing the existing practices and current equipment readiness. The result? Taking the seminar assists the superintendent to become the best irrigator possible and becoming a “Certified Irrigation Auditor” may be one of the best decisions golf course management can make today as golf course water issues continue to become more pronounced.

 


 

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