1. Water-wise football first

    MATE (or is that MAIT?), you’ve got to admit the blokes and sheilas at Gympie Regional Council are on the ball when it comes to being up to date and water-wise.

    With water issues becoming a major political football both here and overseas, councillors this week applied world-leading irrigation technology to the issue of improving the water efficiency (and footballing quality) of Gympie’s extensive sportsfields.

    “We’re everybody’s mate,” said Andrew Brown of MAIT industries, which markets and installs automated underground watering systems, mostly to the irrigation farming sector.

    “It’s the first time this technology has been used in a sportsfield anywhere in the world,” he told Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett and Works Committee chairman Larry Friske this week, as he demonstrated the new installations at the One Mile Football grounds.

    Irrigation farmers, for whom water efficiency is a direct bottomline issue, have been using the electronic sensor-based technology for years, Mr Brown said, but its use in sportsfields is very new.

    “We put a sensor in the turf root zone about 15cm down to determine how much water is in the turf and another in the underground drainage area to let you know when you’ve had too much,” he said.

    “The sensor is 3m long and works off the average moisture content over that 3m.

    “The system then activates and later, de-activates the watering system so you get exactly the right amount exactly when the turf needs it,” he said.

    “It’s not just saving on water by turning it off before it’s wasted, it also gives the grass water exactly when it’s needed to maximise growth,” Cr Friske noted.

    It was all good news for Football Gympie president Trevor Kirk, who helped welcome the new technology. Similar ideas will also be applied at the hockey fields and Jack Stokes Oval, although not all the new installations will include automatic watering. Some are there to take measurements and provide information to allow maintenance officials to turn on the tap manually or monitor water needs and usage.

    Story from GympieTimes

  2. Soil monitoring to save water in Council parks

    LEVEL 6 water restrictions across South East Queensland requires owners and managers of sports fields to ensure efficient use of town water which has prompted Ipswich City Council to investigate an innovative moisture sensing system which may provide the perfect answer in the future.

    Conservation, Parks and Sport Committee Chairperson, Councillor David Morrison, said a pilot program using the new system, designed by MAIT Industries Pty Ltd, will soon commence.

    The pilot will be on six sports fields including Mark Marsh Oval in Limestone Park, one field at Ivor Marsden Memorial Park, the recently revived field at Briggs Road, one field at Jim Finimore Park, one soccer field at Redbank Plains Recreational Reserve and one soccer field at Suttons Park.

    “The system we are installing is designed to monitor soil moisture of the sports fields in real time.

    “Essentially, the system is a soil moisture sensor which is permanently installed in the root zone of the field and measures the wetting and drying at the root zone of the turf.

    “The system is wired into the irrigation controller so that irrigation only occurs when soil moisture levels indicate irrigation is required.

    “This ensures that irrigation only occurs when needed and only in volumes needed to provide the desired outcome.

    “During times of severe water restrictions, the outcome is to keep the grass alive and provide a safe playing surface.”

    Cr Morrison said additional items to be installed included water flow meters to log the volume of irrigation and rain switches which turn the irrigation off in the event of  rain during an irrigation cycle.

    “Powerful irrigation scheduling software will allow Council to set up complex irrigation schedules that would otherwise be difficult or labour intensive.

    “This could then be controlled from the computer base or from the field.”

    Deputy Mayor and Division 3 Councillor Victor Attwood said the system was designed with an open framework, for both hardware and software, allowing it to grow and evolve over time to suit Council’s requirements.

    “We have also done extensive soil testing on all of our fields and believe that where we have similar soil types across one series of fields we can get a reading from one installed unit and water all of the fields according to that reading.

    “We believe the new system will save the Council on watering costs as well as improving efficiency.  A one megalitre saving across all of our irrigated fields would save $52,500 a year alone, therefore allowing the system to pay for itself in a very short time,” Cr Attwood said.