Irrigation system maintenance on a golf course involves four major efforts: calibration and auditing, preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, and record keeping. Personnel charged with maintaining a golf course irrigation system face numerous challenges. This is particularly true for courses with older or outdated equipment. Irrigation audits can be conducted to assess the system function, ensuring that the irrigation system works reliably and is cost effective. The Irrigation Association has published irrigation audit guidelines. Good system management starts with good preventive maintenance procedures and recordkeeping. Corrective maintenance is simply the act of fixing what is broken and may be as simple as cleaning a clogged orifice or as complex as a complete renovation of the irrigation system. As maintenance costs increase, an evaluation of whether a system renovation is needed should be conducted.
Best Management Practices
Calibration and Auditing
- Examine turf quality and plant health for indications of irrigation malfunction or the need for scheduling adjustments.
- Evaluate pressure and flow to determine that the correct nozzles are being used and that the heads are performing according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Visually inspect the entire system to identify necessary repairs or corrective actions and make repairs before carrying out other levels of evaluation.
- Conduct an annual irrigation audit to facilitate a high-quality maintenance and scheduling program for the irrigation system.
- Inspect the system daily for proper operation by checking computer logs and visually inspecting the pump station, remote controllers, and irrigation heads. A visual inspection should be carried out for leaks, misaligned or inoperable heads, and chronic wet or dry spots so that adjustments can be made.
- Observe the system in operation regularly to detect controller or communication failures, stuck or misaligned heads, and clogged or broken nozzles.
- Check filter operations frequently. Keeping filters operating properly prolongs the life of an existing system and reduces pumping costs.
- Monitor the power consumption of pump stations for problems with the pump motors, control valves, or distribution system.
- Increase frequency of routine inspection/calibration of soil moisture sensors that may be operating in high-salinity soils.
- Inspect irrigation pipes and look for fitting breaks caused by surges in the system.
- Install thrust blocks to support conveyances.
- Maintain air-relief and vacuum-breaker valves.
- Have qualified pump personnel perform regular checks of amperage to accurately identify increased power usage that indicates potential problems.
- Check application/distribution efficiencies annually.
- Winterize the irrigation system to prevent damage.
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