Thai Country Club in Chacheongsao, Thailand, just outside Bangkok, is in the process of upgrading their Rain Bird irrigation control system to improve the system efficiency as well as course playability.
The process was implemented after following the recommendation provided in an Irrigation System Analysis performed by Aqua Turf International (ATI). The course was suffering from wet fairways, approaches and surrounds. Some of these problems were attributed to poor drainage, but many of which were actually irrigation related.
Ron Carlyle, the turf consultant and agronomist for the course recommend the System Analysis be performed. After a few months of reviewing the Analysis the General Manager, John Blanch, realized the need and acquired the approvals needed to commence the planning, design and implantation of an irrigation control system renovation and water management training. The goal is to provide the staff with a system that is more efficient and offers more control capability. Additionally, upon completion of the upgrade the staff will be fully trained in the proper water management techniques so they can maximize the new investment in the control system.
The existing satellites had multiple sprinklers (2 – 4) operating simultaneously from a single station as shown in the photo below. This offered little control flexibility, especially since the sprinklers were widely spaced at 25 meters and above. Additionally, the high flow of the widely spaced sprinklers causes excess flow and water velocity in the lateral piping. The result was overwatered turf and unnecessary pipe and fitting failures.
The first step was for ATI to evaluate the satellites, communication wire and software to determine what would be required to convert to individual sprinkler control. There is a limit to the number of satellite channels per wire group. The new individual control nearly doubled the amount of channels required. Fortunately, by rearranging some of the satellites and adding only a small 1,000 meters of additional communication wire the individual control could be achieved without adding any additional satellites. Most of the existing satellites were only utilizing 24 – 32 of the 72 station potential station capacity of each satellite. ATI developed a new individual wiring plan to replace the old wiring plan. Fortunately, ATI had prepared a GPS as-built drawing several years earlier which was used as the basis for the re-design. After the new wiring plan was completed, new 8-station modules were purchased to expand each satellite to the capacity required. By this time the additional 1,000 meters of communication wire had been installed and it was time to get to work rewiring the satellites.
The re-wiring of the satellites is being performed in-house by the maintenance staff to control cost and is being supervised by James Schumacher of ATI. Each existing station is activated to determine which sprinklers are currently controlled by that station. They are then labeled with the correct number on the new wiring plan and then reconnected. To insure that the system is never down during the process, ATI reprograms the computer for the satellites completed that day. One to three holes can be completed each day.
In addition to the work on the satellites additional programming will be performed by ATI so the new individual station capability will be maximized. The Rain Bird Stratus software required an enhancement to allow for the expansion of a third communication wire path. Also a computer map enhancement is being added to allow for improved water management of the software by the staff. Once the project is finished the updated as-built drawing will be imported into the Rain Bird Stratus by ATI. This will allow access from the staff’s smart phones and tablets so each sprinkler run time can be adjusted daily to the correct amount. To further improve the system efficiency and playability two Rain Bird Rain Cans have been added to the system to provide automatic shut down of the system if a rain event occurs before or during a programmed irrigation cycle.
The staff will receive complete and ongoing water management and system training from ATI so they can optimize the investment the club has made in improved irrigation technology. The end result will be a golf course that is drier and more playable, healthier turf and reduced operating expenses.
Thai Country Club are moving forward as one of the leaders in improved water management in Thailand and example for others to follow.
Contact ATI if you are interested in improving your irrigation system and course playability.