Soil Scout - an expert opinion
Soil Scout's Head of Creative Content James Baylis talks to four leading sports turf professionals about their recent experiences using the Soil Scout solution.
Soil Scout provides sports turf and golf course maintenance professionals with one of the most advanced, fully buried underground wireless soil sensor and monitoring solutions available on the market today. Many golf courses and sports stadiums worldwide use the Soil Scout solution to maintain their turf whilst also reducing maintenance costs and water consumption.
Permanently positioned sub-soil wireless sensors from Soil Scout stream moisture, temperature and salinity readings from key locations across pitches and golf courses, collecting all of the data needed to make real-time decisions on where to allocate time and resources with an unfair competitive advantage of 20 years battery lifetime.
With real-time live data from underground sensors, turf professionals receive a detailed view of the in-field variations of their pitch, and then with more accuracy can treat areas of concern ensuring a consistent playing surface. Collecting historical data over a period of time and years gives an overall clearer view of seasonal trends and enables turf professionals to be much more proactive in the field.
Andy Richards, Grounds Manager at Haileybury School in Hertfordshire has Soil Scout sensors buried across his grounds on a variety of pitches. With over 30 years experience Andy is highly regarded by many of his peers as a pioneering practitioner of data-driven sports turf maintenance.
“I’m currently working with London clay underneath my soil, and without any historical data, all I know is that it can get very wet or very hard. For me, data is knowledge, and having Soil Scout continuously provide me with moisture, temperature and salinity data will give me so much more knowledge and justifiability to my directors to get more money spent in the right places and on the right resources.
“For example, I was always under the impression the soil temperature was more constant than air temperature, yet using Soil Scout has shown me that it fluctuates just as much as the air temperature, which I would never have believed otherwise.
“This means I’ve been able to adapt my fertiliser application times, meaning I waste fewer resources by applying it at ten degrees opposed to nine degrees where fertiliser has no effect.”
Gary Barwell is the Head of Sports Turf at Edgbaston Stadium, an ECB test match venue and home of County Cricket side Warwickshire.
“With big games coming up in the summer we obviously put a lot of water on the ground and we want to try and work out the water movement through the profile of the table.
“We are also bringing a lot of our work on the outfield, in-house so we want to be assured that we are doing things at the right times and the deployed sensors from Soil Scout help us achieve this.
“We have a vigorous fertiliser programme so knowing the salinity of the soil is quite essential to us, understanding the key times of when to do it is very important. The ability to gain previously unknown information and data will be critical in helping us to better prepare for the big games this summer.”
Angus Macleod is the Director of Golf Courses and Estates at The Belfry and he has had Soil Scout sensors deployed on his course for over 12 months now.
“Greenkeeping has moved on. There’s a lot more data collection now. Greenkeeping has always been an art, but now it’s a science.
"We need to produce a quality golf course every single day. And we’re seeing that more with the data now available on your phone. For example, by using Soil Scout’s sensor, we can make the right judgement call at the right time of the year, meaning we can now plan how we organise and manage the team, adding products and agents to the course, and then presenting our progress to our owners.”
John Silvester is the Head Groundsman at Sky Bet League One football club Shrewsbury Town. John and his team have just had their 2020/21 playing surface at the Montgomery Waters Meadow ‘highly commended’ in the end of season awards.
John has six Soil Scout sensors buried in his pitch. “The Soil Scout solution helps us achieve an ideal level of moisture in the playing surface, increasing the playability and helping us prepare an ideal surface for the players in-line with the managers requirements and expectations.
“Having accurate soil temperature readings in real-time helps us take away the guesswork when seeding, we can control our costs by not over-seeding and take satisfaction in knowing we are applying applications at the right times when temperatures in the profile are high enough.”
With Soil Scout, data-driven sports turf management is a real and affordable option for grounds teams looking for ways to achieve greater efficiencies and improvements that will compound with each new season.