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!

Soil Scout will be at Fruitlogistica


 

Soil Scout will be participating at Fruitlogistica start-up day in Berlin Messe 7th of February 2020.

You’ll find us from Hall 9 booth D11-12. Come and visit us!

Soil Scout raises significant late-seed round led by Husqvarna Group


The system – used by customers including Wembley Stadium – is the first to transmit critical soil data wirelessly from underground in real-time

HELSINKI, Finland (October 8th, 2019) Wireless soil moisture sensor startup Soil Scout has closed a significant late-seed funding round led by Husqvarna Group, with private investment closing out the round. Soil Scout plans to use the funding to scale production so they can help more farmers, sports venues, and managers of green spaces around the world better manage their water resources.

“We are extremely excited about the recognition from Husqvarna as they have over a century’s worth of experience in the field and understand the need for water management,” said Soil Scout’s CEO Jalmari Talola. “This funding is important for us as it allows us to improve our collaboration with new and existing partners and customers, as well as extend our product portfolio,” he concluded.

“We were particularly impressed with Soil Scout’s track record, with high-profile sports grounds like Wembley Stadium and Citizens Bank Park (home to the Philadelphia Phillies) already utilizing the system,” said Björn Axling, Vice President, Corporate Venture Capital at Husqvarna Group. “This, in addition to a strong team and the truly impressive capabilities of the Soil Scout system, convinced us to invest in Soil Scout, ” he continued.

Unlike above-ground solutions, Soil Scout’s sensor is the only system capable of transmitting moisture, temperature, and salinity data in near real-time from up to 2 meters below the surface, for up to 20 years, maintenance-free. 

19th generation farmer, doctor in agrotechnology, and inventor of the Soil Scout solution Johannes Tiusanen built the system to give farmers the data they need to become precision agriculture specialists, both conserving water resources and increasing yields on their land over the long-term.

“Quite contradictory to what people think, precipitation actually is inadequate, even here in Finland: we have plenty of water, but agronomically in the wrong place,” said Tiusanen. “When it comes to agriculture, topography, draining and soil composition can lead to different parts of the same field having a substantially different yield potential. At Soil Scout, we have built a future-proof below-ground monitoring solution that can stay in operation and in-situ for decades,” he continued.

The system also allows farmers and turf professionals like golf course superintendents and sports venues managers to gain a detailed picture of their soil quality while leaving topsoil, pitches, and greens undisturbed.

“The Soil Scout moisture units have exceeded my expectations in their usefulness”, said Mike Boekholder, Director of Field Operations at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. “I feel like we tend to not overwater as much, making management of the clay a bit less guesswork and a bit more science. Any advantage we can get in providing a better-quality surface, I’ll take. They certainly are a nice tool to have and help us tremendously in that regard.”

Husqvarna Group is a global leading producer of outdoor power products and innovative solutions for forest, park and garden care. The Group sells its products to consumers and professionals in more than 100 countries, with net sales amounting to SEK 41 billion in 2018.

For additional information:

Media kit with pictures

Jalmari Talola, Soil Scout CEO

+358 40 8201709

jalmari.talola@soilscout.com


Soil Scout massively optimizes water and energy usage by providing permanent buried wireless monitoring. Our small buried “Scout” sensor transmits moisture, temperature and salinity in near real-time from up to 2 meters/ 6 feet below the surface, for up to 20 years, maintenance-free. Our partners include farmers and agricultural producers around the world, golf courses like Desert Mountain Arizona, and arenas like Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit soilscout.com.

Husqvarna Group

Husqvarna Group is a global leading producer of outdoor power products and innovative solutions for forest, park and garden care. Products include chainsaws, trimmers, robotic lawn mowers and ride-on lawnmowers. The Group is also the European leader in garden watering products and a global leader in cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. 

The Group’s products and solutions are sold under brands including Husqvarna, Gardena, McCulloch, Flymo, Zenoah and Diamant Boart via dealers and retailers to consumers and professionals in more than 100 countries. Net sales in 2018 amounted to SEK 41 billion, and the Group has more than 13,000 employees in 40 countries. For more information, visit www.husqvarnagroup.com

Alternative method to choose Scout locations 2 – Veristech


While in-field variation of farming soils has for a while been assessed by different kinds cameras, methods that actually get involved with the dirt are becoming commercially available as well. Today among the very first farms in Finland, the field plots at Soil Scout trial farm were scanned by Juha and Jussi Knaapi with a combination of an on-the-go Veristech soil scanner and a Wintex soil sampler

The scanner measures three soil parameters on the fly: 1) conductivity, 2) NIR organic content and 3) pH. Note the water tank on the scanner – the water is used for the mandatory washing of the pH sensor after every sample analysis (which is why Soil Scout does not include pH sensing).

Once the scan is complete, the soil organic matter (SOM) map remains a relative heat map. This is why the system finally decides 3 locations for collecting soil samples: a high, an average and a low NIR value point. These points are then sampled with the Wintex and sent for accurate laboratory SOM analysis to provide calibration values for the remaining map.

This above described method applies the basic cost saving philosophy of using smart techniques to decide a few points of high interest and then measuring those by sophisticated means. Which is exactly what Soil Scout does regarding the continuous monitoring of soil moisture and temperature conditions: choosing the essential locations based on vegetative observations and recommending those for Soil Scout sensor points.

This summer we will be able to compare up to 6 different methods to define in-field zoning and bring our experiences to the benefit of our Soil Scout customers. The mapping is carried out in co-operation with the MIKÄ DATA research program at the Pori university center.

Alternative method to choose Scout locations 1 – Geocarta


A strict grid method for collecting soil samples or installing soil sensors is a very ineffective approach as it will produce lots of unnecessary data points and a high cost. The most frequently used method for the Soil Scout team in helping farmers choose the most beneficial locations for instrumentation within their fields is to recognize good/average/poor growing spots from infrared satellite image browsers, such as the Sentinel Playground. After all, there is no telling beforehand whether a poorly growing spot is too wet or too dry – but surely it is not optimal.

Today a more hands-on approach to identify soil texture zones was tried out at the Soil Scout trial farm in Ulvila, Finland. A patrol from the Geocarta visited the fields with their on-the-go soil resistivity mapper. Their soil texture mapping philosophy is identical to ours: where to collect productive soil samples for a detailed laboratory analysis is chosen by mapping the apparent resistivity variations and identifying zones, which differ from each other for a fact, but the actual characteristics remain unknown until the soil samples have been analysed.

Once the raw data has been post processed, we will soon find out how the soil texture maps correlate to the observed yield potential differences within the fields, and how well the soil sampling coordinates will correlate to our selection of Soil Scout sensor locations! The mapping is carried out in co-operation with the MIKÄ DATA research program at the Pori university center.

Read our founder’s interview from European Business Magazine!


It all started with an idea to bury a mobile phone with soil sensor… Apparently it didn’t work but after years of development Johannes and Jussi came out with world’s first wireless underground soil condition sensor!

Please read our founder’s interview from the link because he is the man!

https://www.european-business.com/soil-scout-oy/interviews/getting-iot-underground-more-than-burying-a-mobile-phone-and-attaching-a-sensor/

Johannes Tiusanen

Soil Scout Presented in Deutsche Telekom Innovation Day 2018



Soil Scout took part to Deutsche Telekom‘s Innovation Day 2018 in Bonn. Being one of the few startups invited, Soil Scout wireless soil moisture sensor solution was presented to large tech audience in Bonn.

Soil Scout CEO Jalmari Talola commented: “It was our great pleasure for being part of this amazing event. We saw highly interesting and innovative presentations and received received interest to our Wireless solution”.

Soil Scout awarded in KasvuOpen 2018



Soil Scout awarded in Kasvu Open 2018 Circular Economy and chosen among the top 100 finest growth companies in Finland! The judges named Soil Scout having major growth potential and being ready to be scaled globally immediately.

Award by Cleantech Scandinavia


OSLO, NORWAY – 3 April 2017

Soil Scout was awarded 2nd place in the annual Nordic Cleantech competition, hosted by Cleantech Scandinavia in Oslo today. Given the large number of excellent Cleantech companies and innovations involved, we are naturally very proud and honoured to be recognised.

Click here for the press release from Cleantech Scandinavia