Glen Lodge Bawburgh Golf Club in Norfolk is the first course in the UK to feature a complete, fully working John Deere irrigation system, which was officially commissioned at the end of April 2009.
Installed by Irrigation Services (UK) Ltd of Norwich, the system covers the club’s existing 18-hole course and an additional new nine holes that are due to open in 2010. Course manager Mike Ward is able to operate, interrogate and programme the entire system – from anywhere in the world if required – by radio control or via the internet using a computer or mobile phone, as well as save water using the Aurora control system.
Both the irrigation components and a third generation course equipment fleet including 16 new John Deere machines have been bought from local dealer Ben Burgess, with the new fleet purchased on a six year finance package from John Deere Credit.
“What with the expansion of the course, as well as taking over responsibility for maintaining the driving range, we thought a new finance deal made the most sense from a budgeting point of view,” says Mike Ward. “In particular, we were having ongoing problems with our old irrigation controller which meant we often didn’t know a problem existed until parts of the course dried out, or faults were signalled but we didn’t know where to find them in the system.”
Irrigation Services started installing a complete new system on the nine hole course last October, and all 27 holes were completed by early March this year. Existing pipework on the 18 hole course was upgraded with new solenoid valves, sprinkler heads and decoders, plus a new Aurora control box mounted in the greenkeepers’ shed and an outdoor pedestal controller, each of which can control the other as required.
The new system now irrigates all the tees, approaches and greens, some fairways where necessary, and the club’s five gardens. It even controls a fountain with lights situated in a lake by the 18th hole.
An evapotranspiration (ET) meter linked to the system precisely calculates the amount of water needed for irrigation based on prevailing weather conditions and rainfall, to prevent over- or underwatering. The Aurora controller also provides programming to the second rather than the minute, which can lead to potential savings of large amounts of water over a season.
“This also saves on electricity usage, and long-term wear on the sprinkler heads and pumps,” says Mike Ward. “Agronomists love it too, because if you’re not overwatering you avoid the build-up of disease, etc. I can run multiple programmes, turn individual heads on and off on different parts of the course, and turn individual programmes on and off as required while leaving others running – the whole system’s extremely flexible.”