Best Way To Get Rid Of Grass In Flower Beds How Can Golf Courses Better Conserve Water Supplies?

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How Can Golf Courses Better Conserve Water Supplies?

SPORTS PROBLEM: How can golf courses better conserve water resources and save money? We’ve all heard the news about how the state of California is trying to deal with the historic drought that has hit their state hard. Since California is also home to many excellent golf courses, how do golf course superintendents deal with the many restrictions placed on them to limit water use, and how can courses elsewhere better deal with this problem?

INTELLIGENT SPORTS SOLUTION: The USGA is using several new and innovative intelligent solutions to the ongoing issue of water conservation. Here are some new grasses that are being developed and tested to see which are best suited for the different environments in which they would be used.

Improved grasses that require less water

Since 1982, the United States Golf Association has awarded more than $18 million through its university grant program to research environmental issues related to the game of golf, with a special emphasis on the development of new grasses that use less water and require less pesticide use. For example:

  • Several improved cultivars of buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), native to the American Great Plains, have been developed by grass breeders at the University of Nebraska. This grass can replace water-intensive grasses on fairways and roughs in a large geographic area of ​​the Midwest, resulting in water savings of 50% or more.

  • Breeders at Oklahoma State University have developed improved cold-tolerant seeded varieties of bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), allowing this stress-tolerant, low-water-use grass to become established in the transition zone as a replacement for cool-season, high-water-use grass . Water savings of 30% to 50% or more can be achieved. When Ruby Hill GC in Pleasanton, CA was built a few years ago, its fairways and roughs were laid on Bermuda grass instead of the cooler-season grasses used on nearly every other course in Northern California. They estimate water savings of around 40% compared to similar courses using cool-season grasses.

  • Turf breeders at the University of Georgia have developed improved varieties of coastal paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum). This highly salt tolerant grass can be irrigated with high salt or saline water with little impact on turf quality. Cultivars are available for greens, tees, fairways and roughs, and some can be irrigated with water straight from the ocean!

  • Ongoing work on breeding zoysiagrass (Texas A&M), saltgrass (Colorado State and Arizona State), annual bluegrass (University of Minnesota and Penn State), alkaligrass (Loft’s), wheatgrass (Utah State), colonial bentgrass (University of Rhode Island) . ) and numerous grass species at Rutgers University and other commercial seed companies will provide new golf grass varieties that reduce water and pesticide use for decades to come.

New technologies of irrigation systems

In recent years, tremendous progress has been made in improving the efficiency of irrigation systems through the use of technology, including:

  • Using sophisticated on-site weather stations, weather reporting services, and other sources to determine accurate daily irrigation replacement needs, thereby reducing over-irrigation. Considerable efforts are also being made to adapt different types of sensors to assess the moisture exchange needs of grassland soils, including tensiometers, porous blocks, heat dissipation blocks, neutron probes, and infrared thermometry.

  • Improving irrigation uniformity through careful evaluation of sprinkler head design, nozzle selection, head spacing, pipe size and pressure selection. The Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) (Cal State University at Fresno, 5370 N. Chestnut, Fresno, CA 93740; phone 209-278-2066) is a leader in combining sprinkler uniformity and relative turf quality to achieve the greatest possible golf water savings courses and other turf. Many golf course irrigation design companies and individual golf courses routinely use CIT services to reduce water and energy use on the golf course.

  • Using state-of-the-art computerized control systems, portable hand controllers and variable frequency pumping systems to apply water in the most efficient manner to reduce water and energy consumption.

  • These technologies can achieve significant savings in water and energy resources. For example, the SCGA Members Club in Murrieta, CA recently installed a brand new, state-of-the-art irrigation system and reduced water usage by about 35%. And because they can complete their irrigation schedule in a narrow window during the night hours, their considerable energy costs are reduced by about 50%.

Best Management Practices for Golf Course Irrigation

Best management practices for water conservation can be described as a combination of proper plant selection and cultural maintenance practices that ensure adequate golf turf quality while reducing water use. This could include:

  • Selection of lawns, shrubs and trees with low water consumption for use on the track.

  • Ensuring proper nutrient levels for the lawn, including potassium and nitrogen balance, while avoiding excessive nitrogen levels.

  • Using mulch in shrubs and flower beds to reduce water loss through evaporation.

  • Adjusting the mowing height to ideal levels, depending on the type and seasonal characteristics of water use.

  • Use of soil cultivation techniques such as shearing, cutting and core aeration to improve water infiltration and minimize runoff during irrigation or rainfall.

  • Improving drainage where needed to produce healthier turf with better systems that can extract moisture from a greater volume of soil.

  • Restricting cart traffic to trails to reduce turf wear and limit soil compaction.

  • Cyclic irrigation sessions to ensure good infiltration and minimize runoff.

  • Trimming trees near critical grass areas to prevent trees from competing with grass lawns for moisture and nutrients.

Alternative sources of water

During periods of drought and water restrictions, it is not difficult to understand why many communities are concerned about using their golf course drinking water supplies, either from municipal sources or from on-site wells. In response, many golf courses have developed alternative irrigation water supplies that do not depend on potable water sources. That includes:

  • Basins to collect rainwater that might otherwise be lost and wasted.

  • Use of tertiary treated wastewater from city wastewater treatment plants. This recycled water provides moisture and nutrients to the golf course while helping the municipality avoid discharging wastewater into nearby rivers. The lawn does an excellent job of filtering water from nutrients and breaking down various chemicals and biological pollutants in the water. The use of recycled water on golf courses is mandatory in some places in the Southwest, and it is estimated that more than 1,000 courses across the country currently use this water source.

  • Using salt water or even ocean water to supplement other water sources. Bermuda grass is quite tolerant and coastal paspalum is very tolerant of high salt water, allowing the golf course to be irrigated with brackish water that otherwise has little other use. For example, Old Collier Golf Club in Naples, FL plants its greens, fairways, and roughs on two new varieties of sea paspalum that originated at the Univ. Georgia breeding program, and will use ocean water from a nearby estuary bay to irrigate lawns. A state-of-the-art irrigation system will allow this water to be precisely applied so that it does not encroach on native plant material, and the entire stream will be irrigated during six off-peak hours to reduce energy costs.

  • Construction of an on-site reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plant to produce irrigation water from ocean water or salt water where other supplies are unavailable or very expensive to purchase. Everglades Club on Barrier Island in Palm Beach, FL; Jupiter Island Club in Hobe Sound, FL; Sombrero Country Club in Marathon, FL; and Mahogany Run Golf Course in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, have all built RO plants in recent years and established quality, reliable and cheaper supplies of irrigation water, while allowing others in their communities to use limited drinking water supplies.

Golf course design concepts that conserve water

Today, golf course architects are using innovative design concepts to help conserve water.

  • Careful landscaping and good drainage design are used to collect runoff and subsurface drainage water in on-site storage ponds.

  • Water-demanding lawn and landscape areas are minimized, resulting in water savings of 50% or more.

  • Golf courses with poor or inconsistent soil are covered with a 6-inch layer of sand to allow for even water infiltration and significantly reduce water use by reducing runoff and avoiding over-application of irrigation water.

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