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Optimize Sports Turf Irrigation and Maintenance with Underground 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 while optimizing water consumption and maintenance costs?

The irrigation is often scheduled based on inaccurate information. 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 easily monitor soil quality data 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! 

Soil Scout provides wireless soil monitoring at many sports and golf turfs globally – including the iconic venues, the Wembley Stadium, and Philadelphia Phillies.

In this Blog, we explain how to optimize sports turf irrigation and maintenance with underground soil data!

Download our whitepaper – Data-driven Sports Turf Maintenancefor 10 Tips for using underground soil data to improve turf quality!

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

sport turf soil monitoring solutionThe 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!

Download our whitepaper – Data-driven Sports Turf Maintenance – it gives turf professionals 10 Tips for using underground soil data for optimized turf maintenance!

Soil Scout Chosen for Philadelphia Phillies Stadium

GRANITEVILLE, SC DECEMBER 12, 2016

Citizens Bank Park ™ – home of the Philadelphia Phillies – has completed installation of a new SubAir® Sports System providing a new level of turf management for the field operations team. Installed and connected to the existing drainage system, all components and integrated technology are communicating and performing to provide the subsoil aeration, moisture, and temperature moderation controls. The turf management team headed by Mike Boekholder, Director of Field Operations, is now able to monitor field conditions in real time and is able to operate the SubAir System to support the subsoil conditions and turf health.

Located under the right field stands, the new SubAir® Sport System monitors subsoil conditions of oxygen levels, moisture and temperature levels. If subsoil conditions reach levels that could damage the root zone, the system automatically responds to restore customized oxygen, moisture and temperature levels. “The ability to support the root zone, keeping the grass healthy and growing is essential to growing turf” states Kevin Crowe, SubAir Systems Agronomist. “The SubAir Sports System enables the turf team to actively respond to changing subsoil conditions to grow a strong, deeply rooted turf providing a safer and consistent playing surface.”

At Citizens Bank Park, SubAir® Systems introduces new advancements in monitoring the subsoil environment and system operations. TurfWatch™ Technology connects subsoil monitoring and the operations center via a dedicated communication network. A new partnership with Soil Scout® – in-ground wireless soils sensors – improves monitoring and reporting of conditions in the subsoil environment. Twelve HYDRA Scout sensors from Soil Scout® have been buried below the playing surface in the outfield, warning tracks, and home plate. Each Scout accurately measures and wirelessly transmits subsoil moisture content, temperature and salinity every 20 minutes via a Soil Scout Repeater, or direct to the Base Station. The SubAir Sports System’s control center responds automatically to measurements that exceed the established field condition standards with aeration or vacuum operational modes to return the subsoil to balanced conditions. “The Soil Scout solution allows SubAir to create a dedicated communication platform using wireless and cloud reporting. Using smart phones, tablets or computers, turf managers can log in to TurfWatch™ to monitor, evaluate and respond to changing field conditions,” states Crowe.

The final phase of installation of the oxygen sensors has been completed in the post season. The installation of two sensors in the outfield required a small trench line to connect wiring from the sensor to the control center. These additional sensors have been integrated into network and the Citizens Bank Park SubAir Sports systems is fully operational. SubAir Sports adds Citizen’s Bank Park to it world class installations that include 2016 installations in Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi, Sendai, Japan and Wembley Stadium, UK.

About SubAir Systems: SubAir’s automated systems provide turf management solutions by completely controlling the soil moisture, salinity and temperature. SubAir Systems extend growing periods for fields and courses in high heat or high moisture climates and maintain the overall health of the turf, virtually eliminating diseases while maintaining continuous, consistent turf growth.
http://www.subairsystems.com – Twitter: @SubAirSystems