Call us on 1300 556 116

NSWGCSA awards management of low quality water

The NSWGCSA annual awards in turf management were announced at the AGM at Pennant Hills Golf Club recently on 18th of November.  Congratulations to Martyn Black on receiving the 2014 NSW Excellence in Turf Management award, former recipients of this award include Norm Foord, Michael Bradbery and Mark Parker. This award recognises Superintendents who have consistently produced high quality surfaces over an extended time and contributed in a broader sense to the betterment of the turf industry. Congratulations also goes to Mark Crittenden from Cumberland Golf Club who was the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award, with Brad Huender from Gerringong Golf Course having received this award last year in 2013.

Mark Critto sml

Mark Crittenden was recognised for the massive effort he and his staff have put in over the past 5 years in managing to keep putting surfaces alive and presenting an excellent golf course utilizing an incredibly poor quality bore water.

Brief extracts from Mark’s speech (primarily focusing on Cumberland CC’s water supply) follows:

‘Over the years we have implemented many changes in course design. A master plan was created in 1999 by Jamie Dawson of Enviro links and we went about incorporating those changes at a steady rate, giving us the course we have today. The three most significant events during my time have been the “Wizard of Oz” type storm in 2002, the drought from 1993 to 1998, and gaining accessing an unlimited supply of water to the course in 2009.

For the Club to survive we needed to find an alternative water source. The board at the time were privy to a new development some 2km away as the crow flies. After countless hours of work by the Board and Club volunteers a plan was drawn up to pipe storm water and bore water to the course. A holding pond was built at the site, pumps installed and a 125mm pipe drilled 4km underground to the course. Quite a site to see, drilling under houses, roads etc. Happy days we thought. Unfortunately the stormwater we were expecting from the massive factory roofs, and the run off from the roads did not eventuate and whilst we are still receiving 6L per second, 24 hours a day, the total supply is bore water. Testing of the water revealed sodium numbers at almost 300ppm, SAR near 20, high chlorides and high nitrogen. We knew problems may be expected but had no idea of the practical impacts.  After considerable turf decline in the first summer of use we knew traditional watering methods had to change. If we watered greens for anything longer than 7 minutes a cycle early morning prior to a hot day the greens would start to deteriorate rapidly. Roots blackened and root lengths shortened at an alarming rate. Our only option at the time was to top up by hand watering using town supply. We went around and installed fresh water couplers to our greens off our 25mm bubbler system. Try spending 8 hours a day 5 days a week with little more than a trickle of water from a hose stuck to your hand, trying to keep greens and surrounds in the best shape possible. Mind numbing.   Add weekend mornings and afternoons into the equation and the job wasn’t a lot of fun.

The hardest part was trying to educate members on the issues we faced. The usual “I played at another course the other day and their greens were heaps quicker than ours”.  What they didn’t realise is that the nitrogen content in the bore water fluctuated from week to week. Nitrogen at times has been at 40ppm meaning that every time we watered we fertilised the equivalent of a big granular feed. Nice on tees and fairways maybe but the greens was another story. We were cutting at 3mm and rolling, risking the surface, and still only getting to 8 ½ feet on the stimp. We have had to apply Primo initially at 800ml/ha every 3 weeks, now up to 2L/ha. No wonder I am grey.

After years of reporting to the Board and countless hours trying to explain the difficulties we face, quotes for upgrading the watering system and quotes for desalination plants, we have decided to turn our 12th dam into a fresh water dam and install a new main to greens and tees. At last, hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter.’

For more information on managing greens with poor water quality or assistance in creating a soil health management program contact your Living Turf Representative or call the office on 1300 556 116.