Optimize Sports Turf Irrigation & Maintenance with Accurate Soil Data

optimize sports turf irrigation

The primary challenge in Sports Turf Irrigation, is: how to ensure a safe, durable, and high-quality playing field for the entire season while optimizing water consumption and maintenance costs?

The irrigation is often scheduled based on inaccurate data, which does not provide insights into infield soil variations. As a result, Turf Managers cannot achieve optimal turf conditions, water is wasted, and repeated maintenance activities increase costs.

There is an alternative – by using Underground Wireless Sensors; you can monitor soil moisture, salinity, and temperature in real-time in multiple spots, detect the infield soil variations and irrigate each part of your turf in an optimized way – saving costs, time, and water!

Read this blog to learn more!

What’s the Main Challenge in Sports Turf Irrigation?

Lack of accurate underground soil data, which would also provide an insight into the infield soil variations, makes irrigation optimization difficult for Turf Managers.

The turf maintenance staff often use hand-held measurement instruments to collect soil data. However, poor repeatability of the exact measuring spots reduces the consistency of manually collected data. Further, collecting enough samples to compensate for this inconsistency, not to mention covering an entire field properly, becomes an excessively laborious task.

Automated irrigation is usually scheduled according to evapotranspiration (ET) models, which are unable to expose local differences such as uneven precipitation – let alone providing enough granularity to detect the infield variations in soil moisture.

How Unoptimized Irrigation Affects Turf?

sports turf irrigation

Unfortunately, scheduling Turf Irrigation based on inadequate information causes several problems.

Under-watering

Under-watering a turf results in a hard field surface, which increases the risks of shin splints, and shoulder and knee injuries, and slows down turf growth. Increased salinity, on the other hand, reduces grassroots’ ability to take up water and nutrients.

Over-irrigation

On the contrary, over-irrigation intensifies unnecessary turf growth and results in lush turf, which doesn’t tolerate heavy use. Wet soil surface compacts quickly and the roots’ ability to access water deeper in the soil. Many weed problems emerge due to over-irrigation. Over-irrigation increases leaching of nutrients, and denitrification (nitrogen is lost into the air).

Unbalanced Irrigation

The ET-models cannot provide sufficient detail for detecting soil moisture variations between different parts of the field. Hence the irrigation is applied uniformly across the entire field – even though the parts exposed to most sun and wind would require more water compared to the areas which stay most time in the shade or receive more intense natural precipitation.

You end up wasting the maintenance budget on reactive care, rather than investing in proactive, long-term turf development!

Consequently, it is impossible to achieve optimal field conditions without accurate underground soil data. Instead, extra maintenance actions are required throughout the season. Consumption of fertilizers and water surfactants increases, much water is wasted in the process, and, consequently, you end up wasting the maintenance budget on reactive care, rather than doing proactive, long-term turf development.

The Solution: Optimize Sports Turf Irrigation with Underground Soil Sensors

sports turf sensor wireless soil scout

The solution is underground soil monitoring using wireless sensors, which are easy to deploy and can measure moisture, salinity, and temperature in multiple spots at your turf in real-time. With the data provided by the underground sensors, you can determine precisely, which parts of the turf need to be treated, and when – and where do you need more sensors to support your agronomical problem assessment!

Why Should You Monitor the Infield Soil Variations?

With the underground sensors, you don’t have to settle for inaccurate information based on a single average moisture value for the entire field. Instead, you can place multiple underground sensors across your field in the locations you know are different by experience, monitor different parts of the field separately, and apply an individual management plan for each of them.

By capturing the infield variations in your field, you can apply the right site-specific maintenance activities, identify the optimal areas and replicate the conditions, eliminate quality variations, avoid unnecessary maintenance activities, and refocus your maintenance efforts and budget on more pressing issues and proactive turf development. So, by monitoring infield soil variations, you can avoid unbalanced irrigation!

The Benefits of Underground Soil Monitoring

sports turf irrigation soil data

When you monitor the soil quality below the field surface, you can avoid the problems of under-watering and over-irrigation. Here’s a rundown of the benefits:

  • Improve the field quality and minimize infield quality variations
  • Optimize the field hardness and minimize injuries
  • Increase the maintenance work efficiency
  • Reduce water consumption
  • Avoid leaching – use fertilizers more efficiently
  • Diminish the need for expensive water additives and surfactants
  • Optimize turf growth pace
  • Reduce reactive maintenance costs and invest in proactive development instead!

Why should you choose Soil Scout’s Wireless Soil Sensor?

sports turf wireless soil sensor

Soil Scout is a highly accurate underground wireless sensor, which provides you with soil moisture, salinity, and temperature data in real-time on the Cloud – on a smartphone, or your irrigation system among the many alternatives.

The sensors are easy and quick to install, and you can monitor the soil conditions with any number of sensors buried in the field. You can start with a small number of sensors, and simply dig in more whenever the need arises.

The cost-efficient system allows you to cover an entire field, collect data from multiple spots, and to capture the infield variations in soil moisture, salinity, and temperature accurately.

Soil Scout sensors are entirely maintenance-free. The sensors are fully buried, allowing for obstacle-free turf maintenance – the battery lasts for more than ten years of continuous operation.

The unique, patented radio technology of Soil Scout is developed and optimized for underground wireless data transmission. The underground antenna autonomously adjusts itself to the soil’s electromagnetic conditions providing the highest performance in the market – reaching the antennas hundreds of meters away!

No SIM card is required on the sensors. A simple above-the-ground antenna picks up the sensors’ signals and transmits the data to the Cloud via a cellular modem.

Soil Scout is not just a simple soil moisture sensor without a cable. The complete system allows you to gain a deeper view with rich, accurate data to collaborate with your agronomist, to find out even better practices for pesticides and nutritional regimes, following the recorded moisture, salinity, and temperature levels from a season to another. It is a multi-faceted agronomic tool – you can decide on the way to use the data!

In Conclusion

Sports Turf Irrigation is only as accurate and efficient as the data behind it!

With Soil Scout, you don’t have to settle for outdated and inconsistent soil moisture information anymore. Soil Scout provides you with a smooth and cost-efficient wireless solution for monitoring real-time underground data with unprecedented accuracy. Now, you can be sure that your turf is going to deliver a safe, high-quality arena for sports until the end of the season – with less water and lower costs!

Learn how accurate underground soil data enables you to Optimize the Turf! Contact our sales team!

Driving Efficient Water Use at Desert Mountain


One thing is for certain as it pertains to golf course maintenance, and that is how we protect our most valuable natural resource – WATER.  With technology increasing at a rapid pace when it comes to how we manage our courses, we have found that by integrating the Soil Scout system into our daily routine, we are able to become more anticipatory rather than reactionary in our irrigation scheduling.  With the wireless sensors and real time information, we have become more precise in calculating the percentage gain or loss of moisture in the soil.

The Soil Scout allows us to see exactly what impact an irrigation cycle had on the moisture level and we are able to be more efficient in future scheduling by watching the data that we receive from the in ground sensors.  It does all that is says it can do and has shown to be another valuable tool in our efforts to produce high quality playing conditions while at the same time using  water wiser.

Marc Snyder
Superintendent – Outlaw Course, Desert Mountain

Give your players the great playing experience they deserve!

There are approx. 40,000 managed golf courses worldwide, using an estimated 2.5 billion gallons of water every day. Individual courses can use up to 1 million gallons per week. This represents a significant cost to courses in terms of water and irrigation power.

In addition, governmental water restrictions are increasing in many parts of the world, as are environmental pressures to be responsible with previous limited water resources.

Soil Scout ground-breaking technology enables the continual monitoring and profiling, regardless of season or conditions, and the tailoring of turf care based on the specific conditions on each hole.

Having accurate and real time information about your turf enables better and more timely turf management decisions, and thus your course will be in better condition.

  • Wireless real-time insight where YOU want it below the surface
  • Reduce irrigation by up to 50%
  • Maintenance free for up to 20 years

 

SOLUTION ELEMENTS

The Soil Scout solution consists of variable elements, depending on customer needs.

Scout A small, durable, wireless buried sensor that was specifically designed to transmit from up to 12 feet below ground. The HYDRA Scout measures & transmits raw data to the Cloud hourly for up to 20 years, including:

  • Capacitive Moisture
  • Temperature
  • Electrical Conductivity (EC)

The raw EC & Capacitance data is converted to Moisture Content & Salinity in the Cloud using proprietary analytics.

HYDRA Scout
Base Station Receives the Scout transmission via a Receiving Antenna, and passes to a GSM / WCDMA cellular Modem, which transmits the data to our Cloud & Analytics platform. Typically pole or building mounted, it can be located up to 900 yards away1. The type of antenna needed (e.g. Omni, Enclosed Yagi) depends on the specific needs of the site. Each Base Station can handle 1000+ Scouts.
ECHO Repeater When direct transmission to the Base Station is not possible because of distance or topographical barriers, one or more Repeaters can be used to pass the signal along. Range up to 6 miles line of sight, depending on Antenna type.
Analytics Cloud Facilitates easy analysis of both raw and calculated data down to a per Scout level. It is also the hub for equipment management. Alarm functionality allows for exception notification, and real-time export of data is possible via our REST API.

 

Tangible Benefits for Golf Courses

  • Optimal decisions on irrigation, fertilising and other maintenance with insignificant effort and reduced manual measuring
  • Water and energy savings of up to 50%
  • Decreased fertiliser runoff and reduced ground-water pollution
  • Lower irrigation equipment maintenance costs
  • Immediate insight on performed irrigation, vertical water infiltration and possible layering
  • Opportunity to maintain turf moisture optimally low to reduce vegetative growth, mowing work and grass residue
  • Enables proactive operations based on late fall, winter and spring conditions; e.g. snow covered warm turf predisposed to pests & mould
  • Looking-glass through snow cover and soil surface: modify Fall maintenance in proportion to true levels of frost, enabling earlier season openings
  • Superintendents can show evidence to shareholders and society of responsible resource use (water, energy and fertilisers)

Give your players the great playing experience they deserve – on optimal and uniform turf!

 

Screenshots from Soil Scout Analytics Cloud, showing Scout and Base Station locations. Map interface allows selection individual Scouts, and viewing of both raw and calculated current and historical data in tabular or graphical form
  1. Underground to air range depends heavily on receiver antenna type and elevation, soil type, topography, vegetation, etc. See www.soilscout.com/documents for more guidance on indicative ranges.

Mississaugua Golf relies on Soil Scout

‘We are using Soil Scout to provide us with up to the second data on what is happening below the turf surface. We have remote access from anywhere in the world at the touch of a button and have quickly become reliant on the convenience that this service provides. The product was easy to install and the Soil Scout team has been very quick to help us get set up and when we have needed support we have had no issues. We look forward to building on our infrastructure and expanding beyond our current use’

Jon Smith
Golf Course and Property Manager
Mississaugua Golf and Country Club, Ontario, Canada