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Why Meadow Club Uses Soil Scout for Data-driven Golf Turf Maintenance?

Kevin Hauschel Meadow Club Golf

Meadow Club in Marin County in California is a unique, world-class golf club, located just 50 miles away from San Francisco, in a tranquil area surrounded by beautiful nature. As the first golf course in the US designed by the renowned Dr. Alister MacKenzie in 1927, Meadow Club carries its heritage with pride. Every day, the maintenance team ensures that the course and turf are in tip-top shape to provide the golfers with unforgettable playing moments.

Despite its nearly centennial history, Meadow Club is ahead of its time in its advanced, data-driven turf maintenance practices. Soil Scout’s underground wireless soil sensors and Cloud-based monitoring solution help the team optimize the turf quality with accurate, real-time soil moisture, salinity, and temperature data.

In this article, Meadow Club’s superintendent Kevin Hauschel explains why Meadow Club chose Soil Scout and the ten most significant benefits.

1. Underground Soil Sensors Show When and Where Water is Needed

 

Soil Scout soil monitoring data

 

Soil Scout’s solution enables us to optimize irrigation accurately. The soil sensors tell us where and when the water is needed. As the soil conditions vary significantly across the property, not all greens and fairways can be treated according to the same program.

With the root-zone soil moisture data provided by the underground sensors, we know which are the most at critical spots to focus, and we can treat them early – to keep the stress away and avoid diseases.

2. Soil Scout Complements Other Technologies with Accurate Soil Data

One of the crucial advantages of having Soil Scout is that its accurate, real-time underground soil data perfectly complements other turf maintenance technologies – such as our Greensight drone-mounted thermal imaging solution.

With Soil Scout on board, we can now compare the above-ground thermal imagery, with accurate, below-ground evidence, and fine-tune our data-driven turf maintenance practices.

3. Soil Scout Increased Working Efficiency Compared to the Previous Solution

One of the biggest reasons for choosing Soil Scout is increased working efficiency! Now our team doesn’t have to fiddle around, taking sensors in and out, as with our previous solution.

We have become more efficient as a team. We can spend less time on unproductive tasks, and proactively concentrate on tasks that directly affect turf quality and health!

4. Easy and Fast Installation

 

golf soil sensor installation

 

Easy and fast installation are valuable features. They make the initial investment cheaper and reduce the recurring maintenance costs because each re-configuration requires less time and effort.

The ability to just dig the sensors in the ground and know that they are going to work for up to 20 years is a significant benefit for us!

5. The Wireless Solution is Flexible and Customizable

Soil Scout’s wireless system with cable-free underground sensors and solar-powered radio signal repeaters provides turf managers exceptional flexibility. It makes maintenance more efficient and allows us to optimize the system as per our needs – so, we can place the sensors where they are needed the most. The wireless, solar-powered repeaters can be freely moved around the property.

 

The wireless, solar-powered radio repeater, Soil Scout Echo.

The wireless, solar-powered radio repeater, Soil Scout Echo Repeater.

6. Start with a Small Initial Investment – Add More Sensors Over Time

With Soil Scout, a golf club can start with a small initial investment, and scale it along with the budget.

The benefit of this is that you can start to learn data-driven turf maintenance practices with one hole. Six sensors strategically placed at the most critical spots are sufficient at the beginning.  You can easily continue to add sensors and gain more knowledge and in-depth information across your property over time.

7. With Soil Scout You Are Not Dependent on Cellular Signal

Many wireless soil monitoring solutions are built on cellular connectivity, which can be a major draw-back because many golf courts, just like meadow Club, are located outside of strong 4G coverage. The signal strength can be weak in some spots, or, in the worst case, it is not available at all.

With Soil Scout, you are not dependent on a 4G signal. The short-range/local radio technology was a big drawer for us, as we don’t have to rely on cellular coverage right across the property. Now we can install the soil sensors where we most need them, rather than where the coverage allows!

8. One Easy Dashboard for Soil Sensors and Drone Images

 

soil scout golf dashboard

 

The cloud-based Soil Scout dashboard is easy to use for several reasons. Firstly, all information fields and charts can be rearranged and named based on our fairways and greens, and anyone in our team can check the situation on any sensor, anytime. We can also see both the Soil Scout sensor data and Greensight’s drone-based aerial thermal images under the same TurfCloud umbrella dashboard.  

9. You Can Follow Soil Data Trends Year-on-Year

The ability to build data patterns and monitor trends year-on-year is essential in data-driven golf turf maintenance. It allows you to optimize your maintenance practices in the long-term. You can learn more about timings of the inputs such as fertilizers, and pesticides, and see the effect on the diseases, grubs, and on the turf quality in general.

10. Soil Scout Enables Longevity for Your Club’s Turf Maintenance Practices

The world-famous golf courts such as Meadow Club are permanent establishments, which must deliver players, from one generation to the next, their unique signature golfing experience. To sustain superior turf quality in the long-term, a club must build longevity in their turf maintenance practices. As a superintendent, my responsibility is to ensure that the next guy can take over the helm at Meadow Club, and continue keeping the turf in the best possible shape and health. Soil Scout’s sensors and underground data enable us to extend the same data-driven turf maintenance practices for years to come! 

 

“Having in ground sensors from Soil Scout helps us become more efficient and tells when and where we need the water most at critical times” – Kevin Hauschel, Superintendent, Meadow Club

What’s Data-driven Golf Turf Maintenance?

Data-driven golf turf maintenance is based on data that provides accurate and actionable information about soil’s growth conditions. The data is available in real-time to enable turf managers and superintendents to carry out high-precision, timely soil maintenance practices. The data-driven golf turf maintenance saves operational costs, reduce water consumption, and helps to maintain optimal turf quality always.

 

Download our whitepaper – Data-driven Sports Turf Maintenance – it gives golf and sports turf professionals 10 Tips for optimized turf maintenance!

Contact Soil Scout for a Trial!

 

How Can Farmers Reduce Center Pivot Irrigation Costs by up to $135,000 by Cutting in Water?

center pivot irrigation cost reduction soil scout

Center pivot irrigation is a common technique in farming, yet it has the highest costs. Diesel alone can cost up to $25,000 yearly for 15 acre-inches per center pivot system. Farmers have enormous pressure to reduce costs and save water, but it’s not easy without jeopardizing crop quality and yield. It requires a systematic and careful process. 

This 4-step irrigation optimization approach using wireless soil moisture sensors can help farmers reduce water consumption! With a reduction of up to 50%, they can slash center pivot diesel costs by $135k in 20 years with a payback under 2 years!

Read this blog for the four-step irrigation optimization approach – and, check the model Calculation to estimate your cost savings!

Download the full four-step irrigation optimization guide here

Typical Center Pivot Irrigation Costs

Center pivot operating costs consist of, e.g., diesel, electricity, oil and lubricants, repairs and maintenance, labor, and more. Diesel fuel is one of the primary operating costs, and it varies greatly. According to the University of Georgia’s crop production budget 2019, a center pivot irrigation system can consume diesel worth $12.50, and electricity for $7.00 per every irrigated acre-inch.

So, if 15 acre-inches are applied during a season, the total yearly diesel bill becomes $187.5 per acre. This corresponds to a total of $25,600 of yearly diesel expenditure for a fully-rotating center pivot system assuming a 136 acre field. If electricity was used, the total yearly energy cost in the same scenario would be $14,280.

Reducing the Costs via Optimized Irrigation – What are the Risks? 

The center pivot operating costs are directly proportional to the utilization of the system: the number of runs and the amount of water pumped. Reducing water consumption is a challenging task, however. The lack of accurate soil moisture data has been the biggest constraint – i.e., how much water plants can get from the soil currently and how much irrigation is needed? 

Optimal soil moisture is critical for plants. Recent research on soil moisture optimization showed that yield losses start to develop well before drought reaches the wilting point. Actually, plant growth slows down immediately when root-zone soil moisture falls below the optimal range.

Even a small water deficiency has several negative impacts on plants: less water reduces photosynthesis, which slows down growth. Reduced water uptake means less nutrient uptake.

So, decreasing water usage without continuous, underground soil moisture monitoring is a huge risk, because traditional above-ground weather observation appliances such as rain gauges, evaporation models, or drones do not represent underground conditions accurately.  

How to Reduce Water Consumption Safely? 

 

center pivot irrigation cost reduction

 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to water savings because required actions depend on farm location, soil quality, overall weather conditions, crop type, and several other parameters.

However, by continuously monitoring underground soil moisture, and optimizing center pivot irrigation based on reliable feed-back, farmers can follow the best-practice methods – such as the four-step irrigation optimization approach – more accurately. This enables farmers to reduce water consumption more efficiently and with a lower risk than traditional techniques – such as manual inspection, evaporation models, or weather observations.  

The Four-step Approach for Optimizing Irrigation

Here’s how to optimize center pivot irrigation based on reliable underground soil moisture data to save diesel and electricity costs, and water.

 

1. Obtain the Optimal Soil Moisture 

Always aim to optimize and maintain your soil moisture at Field Capacity center pivot irrigation optimal soil moisturelevel (FC). It is optimal for plant root health: water is readily available, and there is plenty of oxygen for transpiration. But, if plants consider FC as optimal moisture content, how much drier soil plants can tolerate? Use underground soil moisture sensors to define the lowest acceptable soil moisture level to save even more water. However, monitor soil moisture continuously to avoid too dry soil and slowed down plant growth. On the other hand, soil moisture above the FC level also hampers growth and causes water leakage.

 

2. React on Incidental Rainfalls Accurately

Observe how natural rainfall influences root zone moisture to know how much you can cut back on center pivot irrigation to save water. Note that rain gauge’s information does not indicate actual underground soil moisture.

 

3. Optimize Irrigation Based on In-field Soil Moisture Variations

Take into account in-field soil moisture variation in the center pivot runs to reduce water consumption locally. Soil moisture is never evenly distributed across a field. It can vary highly from one area to another, and you should optimize irrigation accordingly – or at least be aware of the high and low values.

 

4. Deploy the Controlled Deficit Irrigation strategy

Deploy the Controlled Deficit Irrigation (CDI) strategy to put just the right center pivot irrigation CDIlevel of stress on plants to achieve higher crop quality and save lots of water while suffering only a tolerable yield loss. Without continuously monitoring the actual root-zone soil moisture, this delicate balancing comes with an unacceptable risk of total crop failure.

 

Download our full four-step description for a detailed description.

 

Soil Monitoring in Center Pivot Irrigation – Is there an easy way to do it?

Running center pivot irrigation systems and managing a comprehensive underground soil moisture measurement system simultaneously in the same area is complicated with traditional solutions.

There is an easy way, now! The new wireless underground soil monitoring solution doesn’t affect center pivot operations. Farmers can simply bury wireless soil sensors in different parts of the field at different depths. The Soil Scout sensors measure underground soil moisture, temperature, and salinity, and upload the data every 20 minutes. Farmers can see the information on a smartphone or laptop continuously and in real-time.

Based on this data, farmers can follow long-term trends, compare root-zone soil moisture in different areas, and plan the center pivot irrigation runs in an optimized way – to improve productivity, reduce water consumption, and save operating costs!

The wireless soil sensors are easy to install; simply dug them into the soil. They do not have cables, so farmers can place them deep enough to stay safe from the center pivot wheels. The battery can operate up to 20 years underground; no maintenance is needed.

 

soil moisture sensor

 

How to Estimate the Center Pivot Irrigation Cost Savings?

Center pivot irrigation diesel and electricity expenditure varies from one farm to another based on the amount of pumped water, water source, fuel consumption, the price of diesel per liter, cost of electricity per kWh, and many, many other reasons. However, based on rule-of-thumb assumptions, savings of up to 50% can be achieved as per the diagram below.

 

irrigation water savings

 

The irrigation optimization guide explains more about how to estimate water savings. With the below calculation model, you can estimate the potential cost savings in a specific scenario.

 

HOW TO ESTIMATE DIESEL/ELECTRICITY COST SAVINGS PER CENTER PIVOT SYSTEM

 

Cost of diesel per 1 acre-inch according to the University of Georgia, 2019 (electricity $7.00):

$12.50

Estimated Acre-inches of irrigation per year (qty of irrigation runs):

15

Assumption of irrigated surface area per center pivot system (acres):

136

The calculated total cost of diesel per year:

$25,500

Estimate how much water you can save through optimized irrigation practices

 

1 Obtain the Optimal Soil Moisture – potential saving:

10%

2 React on Incidential Rainfalls Accurately – potential saving:

20%

3 Optimize Irrigation based on in-field soil moisture variations – potential saving: 

10%

4 Deploy Controlled Deficit Irrigation (CDI) strategy – potential saving:

10%

Estimated water savings in total: 50%

Potential yearly savings in diesel costs:

$12,750

Investment lifetime in years (Soil Scout sensor runs 20 years underground without maintenance):

20

Estimation of the total diesel cost savings during the investment lifetime:

$255,000

Net Present Value (NPV) of the potential savings (rate of return 7%):

$135,074

   

What’s the payback time for the Soil Scout wireless underground soil monitoring solution?

Contact the Soil Scout sales team to find out!