Experts in turf maintenance equipment Reesink Turfcare and turf irrigation specialists Aquaturf Solutions held a free Turfcare Professionals Irrigation Training Day in Dublin this spring to teach course managers how to identify and understand potential faults in their systems, and to demonstrate best operating practice.
Positive feedback determines this could be the first in a series of future training days.
Aquaturf's managing director Stephen Daly says: "We teamed up with Reesink to deliver this collaborative event because of their expertise and in-depth knowledge of the industry and irrigation products. Both companies jointly acknowledged a skills gap in the industry's knowledge of irrigation management, and with market feedback saying there's a lack of training available to end-users, it was the perfect cue to stage the event."
Robert Jackson, Reesink irrigation sales manager, explains why the day was needed: "Irrigation is a topic often left in the background until necessary. The result of this is when problems do arise, course managers don't know how to rectify them and have to bring in contractors, costing both time and money. The aim of the training day was to provide information that can be applied to all brands of irrigation equipment, advise on the best sprinkler configurations for different areas of a course and to help end-users develop a trained eye to implement preventative measures against potential problems or ably respond to existing ones. We stripped everything back to the basics of sprinklers and hydraulics, to enable course managers to more confidently manage their irrigation systems and give them a degree of self-sufficiency."
Irrigation designer and consultant, Adrian Mortram, gave presentations on auditing and evaluating irrigation systems, as well as basic irrigation design principles. He says: "Golf course irrigation in the UK and Ireland is very much a management tool performing two distinct functions: providing soil moisture when there is a deficiency of natural precipitation, and ensuring maintenance practices such as the 'washing in' of chemical products and seed germination can be carried out as and when necessary.
"Education and training on how to effectively audit, operate, maintain and understand the design of your irrigation system is therefore absolutely paramount to ensure it will perform to the best of its ability. The talks led on these subjects, and the training day as a whole, aimed and delivered on providing course managers with a fundamental understanding of all aspects of irrigation."
According to Rob Green, Reesink's senior technical support: "Users are sometimes hesitant to meddle with their irrigation systems due to an uncertainty over the outcome of any changes made. Unfortunately this tends to lead to a reactive (as opposed to proactive) situation, if or when an issue does occur. The two outdoor sessions I co-presented with my colleague Cevan Edwards brought a fully operating sprinkler system above ground. By having the whole sprinkler on display we were able to clearly demonstrate best operating practice, show what potential faults look like, and help people identify and deal with these problems in a proactive manner.
"Everyone involved was very engaged and it was brilliant to be speaking to a group of people who really wanted to learn about irrigation systems. There was a good turnout and audience members asked lots of questions throughout the event that we were hopefully able to address and help with. A group of attendees also kindly stayed behind to offer special thanks, saying the day was 'fantastic'."
Working in partnership Reesink and Aquaturf successfully delivered a worthwhile event and, while the training day gave a comprehensive view on the basics of irrigation, it only scratched the surface of a vast topic. This may well be the first of many free, in-depth irrigation training days to come.