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According to recent news, here in the UK we’ve just had the second wettest year on record. Seems a long time since those water bans were put in place earlier in 2012, doesn’t it?
Rusty barbeques and sodden vegetable patches all over Britain attest what a lousy summer we enjoyed, and the rainfall we endured was exceptionally heavy and prolonged. Now, climate experts tell us that we should expect this type of pattern to continue into the future. Woop.
Is this the end for the UK irrigation industry? Are the 100 plus (wild guess there) UK irrigation companies ready to shut the doors and move to warmer climes? I think not. I believe that most will see the climate situation as an opportunity for increased business in challenging times. Adapt and survive, as they say.
While we may see heavier, more frequent heavy downpours of rain throughout summer and winter periods, we will still get warm summers when golf courses, sports fields, plants and lawns require water at specific times during dry periods.
You could argue that a heavy deluge of rain (where most of the water runs off the land into ditches and rivers) is not effective at irrigating the ground, as the soil just can’t physically accept the water quick enough for it to do any good. So, we could therefore assume that more irrigation is required…maybe a little simplistic, but I suspect it contains more than a shred of truth.
Whether we get these high volumes of rainfall or not, water is one of the planet’s most valuable commodities, as the drought situation earlier in 2012 testified. It therefore suggests that if we can store rapid-falling rain for use during a drought, or during dry periods, then we can be self-sufficient. This is absolutely true, however the storage of water can be very expensive because of the quantities required for long-term irrigation purposes.
A bowling green, for instance, or any area of fine turf lawn of a similar size could need a very conservative estimate of 20 cubic meters (4400 gallons) of water for just 1 week of watering (and that’s just half the quantity recommended by turf professionals). That’s a tank measuring 5m long x 2m high x 2m wide…just for 1 week’s water at half a full application.
The same scenario applies to planting areas. Just think how long your water butt lasts if you are using it every day to water your plants or vegetables.
Golf courses, especially, need masses of water to irrigate the course. An 18 hole course could require 250 cubic meters (55000 gallons) just to water the greens over a week in the hottest part of the summer. That’s a very large and expensive storage requirement for any period of time in drought, and to maximise the collected rainfall.
Right now, the challenge for professional irrigation advisors and installers is give the client an irrigation system which, contrary to opinion, will still be valid and useful in the future. An irrigation system which makes the best use of natural resources (the free water falling from the sky), while keeping costs at economic levels. More importantly, to design an irrigation system that uses that water as efficiently as possible, without wastage.
Irrigation equipment manufacturers are currently investing millions in the quest to provide the latest highly efficient controllers, sensors and delivery equipment, proven and tested around the globe, to make the best use of the water available.
In summary, even if we continue to get more rainfall, there will be times of the year when you will need to water your garden…golf course…bowling green. So, if you do decide on a system, think about storage of surplus water and remember you’ll need a large storage capacity for long term use, (usually bigger than you think). Don’t consider this storage without thinking about a highly efficient irrigation system. The more efficient the system the longer this storage will last.