Friday, August 14, 2009
Athletic Field Irrigation
It is very difficult to maintain an athletic field without irrigation. Schedule irrigation to supplement rainfall, and frequency and duration depends on environmental factors and limitations of the irrigation system.
The best time to irrigate is just before wilt occurs. Most grasses have a darker or a dull bluish-green color, and the leaf blades begin to fold or roll when the grass is under water stress. Irrigation should begin when these signs are first observed.
Apply enough water to soak the soil to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches. On medium-textured soils, this usually means applying about 1 inch of water per week during the summer. Light, frequent irrigations encourage shallow, weak root systems and thatch accumulation.
The best time of day to irrigate is before sunrise because there is less wind and lower temperatures, thus less water loss to evaporation. Irrigation at night is more efficient than irrigation during the day. Irrigating after dew develops or before the morning dew dries off does not increase disease problems. Irrigating 24 to 48 hours before major field use will help reduce soil compaction.
On many fine-textured soils, runoff may begin before the soil is properly wet to the right depth. When runoff occurs, stop irrigating and let the water soak into the soil for one to two hours before starting again. It may be necessary to repeat this cycle several times before irrigation is complete.