Why do a Pre-Season Check on your Irrigation?
We all service our cars to give them longevity, and to reduce the chances of them breaking down when we most need them. Doing a Pre-season check on your irrigation system is the same principle.
Because Melbourne Councils need to deliver quality sports fields and parks for their community, particularly given the increase in women’s team sports, the quality and health of the turf surface is paramount. Applying enough water and applying it efficiently in Summer is the #1 factor to achieving this. Not only does this ensure a quality playing surface through Summer, but it also ensures a high quality turf cover and STRONG root systems to allow the turf to get through the demands of a cold Victorian Winter.
Below are some of the reasons we believe a pre-season check of your irrigation systems is critical:
Starting the irrigation season with a system that you know is running correctly will prevent issues arising, which show up as problems with your turf or garden beds down the track, ie. in the heart of summer! See below photo of what this looks like – a broken sprinkler fitting, which meant the rest of the ground could not be irrigated.
Having sprinklers that aren’t straight or too low, will greatly reduce the uniformity of the water application in that area. This will tend to show itself as a dry patch and by then the damage is already done. With higher usage rates on quality fields, a stressed-out section of turf can be very hard to get back; particularly after a bit of wear and tear. Similarly, in peak Summer conditions garden bed irrigation issues can present as plants lost- which is a disaster!
The quick fix is to run that particular station longer which uses a lot more water as you end up irrigating to suit the driest area (and in extreme cases other areas can receive too much water). Systems that aren’t audited and checked for efficient sprinkler operation, and yet are showing no signs of dry patches are most likely just running for too long to cover up these inefficiencies. In the driest continent on the planet- we can’t afford to overwater unnecessarily. Geoff Connellan, author of “Water Use Efficiency for Irrigated Turf and Landscape” states that irrigation systems in poor condition will use at least 20% more water than those in good condition.
Get in before the Summer rush
Scheduling an irrigation professional to check over your system in Spring (Sept-Oct-Nov) including pump repairs, can reduce the likelihood of having to potentially join the queue and wait for someone to fix your system when you discover a fault on your own first start up in November-December. In the heart of Summer, your parks and gardens can’t afford to be waiting 1-2 weeks for an irrigation fault to be rectified, or a pump repair. This can often lead to the death of turf and plants.
And don’t forget, it’s much cheaper to rectify an issue early, than it is to fix a system that is broken.
Some of the things that traditionally go wrong when you start up.
Pump not working
Irrigation controller not working
Valves not opening or stuck open.
November – what to do:
For a typical automatic irrigation system (in this instance we will use the example of an oval) we would check the system as follows:
- Ohms Test all cables at controller to determine wiring joins issues or faulty coils.
- Run a Test cycle and check:
- station on/off
- Sprinklers all popping up and rotating full arc
- Sprinkler height and straightness
- Correct type of sprinkler and nozzle
- Arcs for part circle boundary sprinklers
- Pitot tube test some sprinklers to check operating pressure.
- Check Master Valve is working (often they are left open)
- Test Pump set, incl. operating pressure, start stop, loss of prime switches etc. (May also require an electrician to check switchboard and panel and Meg Test the pump motor).
- Run another test cycle and walk the mainline and check valve boxes for leaks
- Test and check Raincheck device
- Repair any issues and report on works carried out.
The above check and pump repair will get your irrigation system ready for a gruelling 4-5 months.
Systems with inherent issues such as poor design spacings, low pressure or undersized water supply will always struggle and these issues can be identified with a more detailed catch-can test to evaluate uniformity and actual application rates. But the good news is that with a pre-season check, you will identify the relatively simple fixes and have your system in the best condition for Summer.
A pre-season check that uncovers any issues and rectifies them, will end up being cheaper overall as you avoid adding extra time to your stations to cover something up and you potentially avoid an emergency callout to fix an issue. The other benefits are the peace of mind and the much greater chance that your sports field or recreational area is always looking good and goes the distance through Summer. Just like another sportsground that Century Rain maintains – see image below.
To enquire about getting your irrigation systems checked before the season starts you can either contact us below, or simply call our office on 9735 9077.