What Lies Beneath

This week, an irrigation team from Toro will be scanning our fairways with a specialized machine. This unit will drive up and down each fairway and collect a wealth of data indicating what lies beneath the turfgrass you see at the surface. The PrecisionSense machine will greater identify how every sprinkler in the fairways is performing, tests for soil salinity, identifies heavily compacted areas, and raises awareness about impending turf stress. Yes, we are in our third year of using a new irrigation system and the system itself is running well.  However, we did not change the soil, the topography, or the grass types on the golf course and this new technology is part of the irrigation package we installed several years ago and will allow us to optimize the efficiency of our irrigation system.  Furthermore, PrecisionScan will help to maximize conditioning through our foliar fertility program. All the data will be compiled and transferred into Google Earth images and we will soon be able to make necssary changes to the irrigation system along with performing cultural practices to help improve upon conditioning throughout the entire golf course.

Some of the benefits include:

•Inefficiency of the irrigation system by showing moisture content in the soil
•Salinity levels and impending drought stress related to excessive salt in the soil
•Wasted water due to runoff and water/nutrient absorption deficiencies due to compacted soils
•Dry and wet areas related to topography
•Turf stress based on any and all of the above

Rain Dance

In June of 2010 (3.00″) we recorded more rain than in January 2010 (2.70″). That broke an all time record as it normally never rains in June. December was the second driest on record. As the crazy weather continues, we head into the second week of January with our dry spell continuing. Most other Bay Area courses are not all that concerned about the lack of rainfall. They have on-site wells, irrigation ponds/lakes, use recycled water, or do not have to pay $2,500 per acre foot like we do. Being at the mercy of the City of Santa Cruz, we are very concerned if drought restrictions are imposed in the coming months. That would significantly impact the amount of water we can use and potentially how we can use it. Having said that, the work that has taken place over the past several years with the installation of the new irrigation system greatly improving our efficiency with water use and the conversion of 30-acres into naturalized areas, has set us up to better withstand future drought restrictions. The most recent drought period was in 2009 when we had to cut back 30% or (17-million gallons) in water usage during a six month period beginning in May. That year, we irrigated 80-acres whereas we currently irrigate 68-acres. While we are currently working on alternative water sources for the future, we still have to be concerned about what is currently going on with the weather pattern and the potential for drought restrictions in 2012.

If rain clouds do not appear in the coming weeks, we may be getting desperate