PACE Turf - Turfgrass Information Center

Shoebox irrigation audit

What do shoe boxes and irrigation audits have in common? Everything, if you are going to use the shoe box as an inexpensive catch can.

In previous updates, we have directed you to use custom catch cans specifically designed for irrigation audits. But we have seen that most of you find the custom catch cans to be expensive and sometimes difficult to use. Therefore, we are recommending that you give plastic shoe boxes a try instead — they are easier to get a hold of, and much cheaper to buy. You can purchase the new catch cans for less than $2.00 US each when you buy them in lots of 20. These handy boxes can be purchased at most Container stores.

You will have to make a few easy calculations to obtain total precipitation and precipitation rate but we have provided an Audit calculator spreadsheet to help you out. You will also need a 500 ml graduated cylinder to measure the volume of the water collected in the shoe box. The process that we outline here will allow you to use any rectangular–shaped container to compute precipitation and, if you know the irrigation run time, precipitation rate.

Once you have purchased your shoe boxes, the first step is to record the dimensions of the opening (length and width) of your container in centimeters (enter this information in cells B1 and B2 of Audit calculator spreadsheet). We are going metric at this point because the calculations are easier to understand (we will convert back to inches of precipitation and inches per hour (in/hr) in the end). Once you have these measurements (30.2 x 17.2 cm = 522.46 cm² for the Container Store box), you are ready to conduct the audit.

Let's start with a two can audit as we have described in a previous post.

  1. Set up at least two catch cans (shoe boxes) per test area - one catch can in good performing turf and another in an adjacent area of poor performing turf. Set them up in the late afternoon/early evening before the normally scheduled irrigation cycle begins.
  2. Print out a copy of the Audit calculator spreadsheet to take with you out onto the golf course, so that you can enter all of the appropriate values by hand. Once you return to the office, you can re-enter these figures onto the electronic version of the spreadsheet, and the spreadsheet can do much of the calculation work. You can also then save your work for future reference by clicking "Save as" in the File menu.
  3. Record the irrigation run time for the area you are auditing (in cell B3 of the Audit calculator spreadsheet).
  4. Once the irrigation cycle has been completed, carefully pour the contents of each catch can into the graduated cylinder and record the volume (milliliters [ml] = cubic centimeters [cm³]) of water collected in column B (under the "ml" heading). Once you type this number into the spreadsheet, it will automatically calculate the number of inches collected (column F) and the precipitation rate [number of inches per hour] (column G) that is being delivered to the turf. If you want to perform these calculations by hand, see the NOTE below.
  5. On the spreadsheet, also record information about the location of each catch can in column A (e.g. "fairway 1 left, near 150 yard marker"), and in column H, record turfgrass quality (we suggest a "G" for good performing turf and a "P" for poor performing turf).
  6. If you find that your poor performing turf is being irrigated with less water than you desire, the system will have to be adjusted to compensate. To make this adjustment, divide the desired precipitation volume (the amount, in ml, that you collected in your good performing turf) by the observed precipitation volume (ml) in your poor performing turf. The number that you obtain is the factor by which you will need to increase water delivery by. For example, if the desired precipitation is 220 ml per cycle, and you observe 183 ml, then you will need to increase the volume of water delivered by a factor of 1.2.

With water conservation on everyone's mind, irrigation efficiency will become more important. For information on how to conduct a comprehensive irrigation audit and to calculate the uniformity of your irrigation system, refer to PACE Insights Vol. 6 No. 6 for more information.

NOTE: To calculate precipitation volumes by hand, divide the volume of water collected by the area, in cm², of the opening (522.46 cm² for the Container Store shoe box). For example, if 205 cm³ water was collected overnight, the precipitation would be 0.42 cm (205 cm³ ÷ 522.46 cm² = 0.42 cm). To convert cm to inches, divide by 2.54 (0.42 cm ÷ 2.54 in/cm = 0.17 in). To calculate precipitation rate in inches per hour, divide by the run time in minutes and then multiply by 60 min/hour. For example, 0.17 in ÷ 10 min = 0.017 in/min and 0.017 in/min X 60 min/hr = 1.02 in/hr.


Got gray leaf spot? Then you can help

Gray leaf spot is a devastating summer disease of reygrass, fescue St. Augustine and kikuyugrass in many parts of the U.S. It's hard to think of anyone who might want to actually see it in action, but there are indeed a few dedicated scientists at the USDA and Kansas State University who would be glad to receive samples of this dread disease.

It's all because gray leaf spot, which is caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea (also known as Pyricularia grisea) is closely related to a serious disease of rice and wheat known as rice blast or wheat blast, and caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Your samples of gray leaf spot-infested turf will help plant breeders to develop new strains of wheat that are resistant to the disease.

If you'd like to help out in this project, please consider sending turf samples (a cup cutter sample placed inside a securely closed zip-lock plastic bag, and then placed in a sturdy box) that are infested with gray leaf spot to: Dr. Gary Peterson, USDA ARS, 1301 Ditto Ave., Frederick, MD 21702. You can contact Dr. Peterson here.

It's very important to enclose this permit with your shipment. Please print it out and include it with your sample in the shipment.

We encourage you to participate in this important project. It would be nice to know that there's some good associated with this awful pathogen...

Stowell to speak at GIS

Planning on being at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonino this year? Then set aside Monday morning, February 23, for an informative, thought provoking (and entertaining) session on turfgrass fertility with experts Drs. Larry Stowell (PACE Turf), Roch Gaussion (University of Nebraska) and Mike Richardson (University of Arkansas). These speakers will be the "guests" at the Turfgrass Talk Show, which will once again be hosted by Dr. Thomas Nikolai of Michigan State University. Speakers will cover foliar vs. granular fertilizers, soil and tissue sampling, the value of historical records and more.

Date: Monday, 2/23/15

Time: 8:30 am - 10:30am

Location: Ballroom C

See you in San Antonio!

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