Five divers, drawn from the Army’s specialist Port & Maritime Regiment based at Marchwood, near Southampton, recently created quite a splash when they visited the East Sussex National golf club to assist positioning and anchoring of two bottom circulator units in one of the club’s four lakes – the one which is used as an irrigation reservoir.
Powered by 3hp electric motors, the two circulators were installed to provide deep, horizontal water circulation with additional up flow. This creates bottom to surface movement which overcomes a build-up of problems caused by anaerobic water trapped at the bottom of the lake.
“The lake is divided into an oxygen rich top layer and an oxygen starved bottom layer,” explained Mike Watton, course manager at East Sussex National. “Apart from the smell – which can be pretty grim – the bottom layer is the source of troublesome algae growth both in the water and in turf under irrigation. The circulators will help cure this by inducing oxygen deep down.”
The circulators are, however, only part of a long-term strategy designed to improve the quality of water held in all four of the club’s lakes. As the Army divers went to work, treating the whole operation as a training exercise, Ringwood-based Hydroscape who supplied the circulators were delivering a ‘Sweetwater’ sulphur dioxide generator which will enable Mike Watton to adjust pH levels.
Mounted on a specially built flatbed trailer, the Sweetwater generator is being used to treat water in three lakes feeding into the irrigation lake (or reservoir) prior to watering selected parts of the golf course.
“We looked at various options including fountains but decided that a sulphur dioxide generator was the better (and safer) way to control pH levels in the water. Ideally we are aiming to reduce the present 8.5 to 6 pH. This will ultimately flocktuate soil particles around the two courses, open up the sub-surface and improve moisture absorption and drainage,” said Mike Watton.
“Yes it will take time, probably twelve months, before we see real benefits both in water quality and improved turf growth. For me it is an interesting and exciting prospect. Side benefits? According to my calculations treated water will reduce run times and, equally important, consumption by some 30%. This in turn will enable me to save an estimated 40% on electricity used to power the irrigation system.
Adding his own thoughts on the subject, Hydroscape managing director Peter Roberts said that the introduction of the Sweetwater sulphur dioxide generator will, when the unit’s potential is more widely recognised by greenkeepers and groundsmen, revolutionise fine turf irrigation techniques.
“Designed as an add-on to existing irrigation systems, linked to water abstraction sources like boreholes, ponds and lakes or plumbed in to reservoirs and storage tanks, the generator enables turf mangers to modify and control pH levels in water stored for irrigation purposes and, subsequently absorbed into root zones.
“In addition to modifying soil structures, treated water will assist grass to use natural ingredients and micronutrients more efficiently, reducing the need to apply fertilisers and, as a bonus, adding soluble sulphur into the soil forming a fourth major nutrient.
“The sulphur dioxide generator not only reduces the growth of surface algae, it prevents expensive irrigation pumps, valves and sprinklers becoming clogged with water-borne fungus.”
East Sussex National www.eastsussexnational.co.uk