Date: Wed 09 Aug 2017

Rain Bird: Setting the standard for data driven practice in golf course irrigation

The Head of Irrigation and Water Management at The London Golf Club, Paul Kennedy, says that more accurate data and user-friendly control system technology are improving his irrigation practice for the better.

golf course irrigation

golf course irrigation
golf course irrigation
golf course irrigation

The 700-acre venue is situated 500 feet above sea level on the North Downs, where water is a scarce resource. Prone to extremes of UK temperature and drying east winds, water evaporation means the course’s own reservoir levels soon drop when there’s little rainfall. Over the course of the watering season, 10,000m³water can be lost through evaporation alone.

“Moisture measurement is essential so we audit moisture levels across the course and we know, for example, exactly how long it takes before the greens will flood. We check every rotor head and audit pump flow to help us find leaks. Doing that we identified over 70 which accounted for as much as 66m³, which is significant: more water than the average household uses in a year. We’ve worked on reducing leaks significantly.

Auditing costs is important. When the Course Manager and management team are planning ahead, they need accurate historical and forecast data about rainfall, leakage, water applied, the cost of components to be repaired or replaced, plus associated staff costs.

With an older irrigation system you need to plan and focus on repair, so being able to add new rotors without having to change anything else is crucial.

With accurate data, having a control system you can actually use is what improves your irrigation practice. Rain Bird’s Version 8 software uses our original 1993 system data. Installation was carried out remotely. We didn’t have to input new information or re-programme anything. The new system is engineered for timeless compatibility which means, for example, that we didn’t have to replace any rotor heads. We only updated our software.

It’s all about central control. V8 makes everything more accessible. Hardware and data are available on one screen and with Windows™ functionality, the icons are simple and it’s easy to use. The mapping is easily the best new feature. You can see what’s running, what’s working or not. I can immediately see where adjustments have been made.

Programming irrigation by precipitation instead of time is also simple and that gives me even greater flexibility. I calculate evaporation (ET) for the day and with one click of a mouse, tick a box and the system ignores my time-based programmes and schedules for watering in millimetres.

There‘s real time, two way communication between pump house and system. If there’s a fault on a rotor head, I switch straight from the PC map into Temporary Station Control, Schedule and Programme Adjust and schedule changes. If there’s a change in the weather and moisture levels are high or we’re applying wetting agent, it’s easy to alter run times.

Everything can be controlled remotely. I can make temporary changes if I’m out on the course on a tablet, or on my phone at home and they’re immediate. Because it automatically reverts to our usual programme, nothing gets left on, or off, by mistake. It’s engineered so simply, and I’m in full control of what’s happening.”

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