4 FM quick reads on grounds
1. Water-Efficient Irrigation
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, water-efficient irrigation.
The primary goal in irrigation for institutional and commercial facilities is reducing use of potable water in landscapes — ideally, by about 50 percent from established baselines. Inefficient irrigation is a big culprit in water waste. Most irrigation systems installed more than five years ago operate at less than 45 percent efficiency. WaterSense guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require a minimum of 70 percent efficiency.
The first step in improving efficiency is to conduct a water audit. Call a licensed landscape or irrigation contractor who can pinpoint waste and recommend strategies for savings. These strategies likely will include installing flow meters to monitor and control water use. Most systems have automatic shutoff features, so if a line happens to break, water flow will cease.
From an efficiency standpoint, drip-irrigation systems are an excellent option. The lines run about 2 inches below the surface, and water drips directly into the roots of plants. Drip-irrigation systems have an efficiency of 95 percent, compared to 50-65 percent efficiency of a traditional, overhead system.
If an existing irrigation system requires optimizing, managers can use several strategies. One strategy involves replacing older irrigation heads. Newer models can greatly improve the accuracy of water disbursement. These models irrigate turf and plants based on the individual amounts required, rather than overwatering in some areas and under-watering in others.
Managers also can have irrigation systems designed and installed so trees, shrubs, and ground-cover plants are in separate zones. As plants become established, the system adjusts or discontinues watering by zone.
2. Sustainability: Integrated pest management
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, integrated pest management.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is gaining popularity among grounds managers seeking more sustainable options for traditional methods of protecting buildings, turf and landscapes from pests. IPM programs offer guidance based on information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment, along with available pest-control methods, to manage pest damage more economically, safely, and sustainably.
One organization, the IPM Institute of North America — www.ipminstitute.org — has developed a certification entitled Green Shield Certified, recognizing institutional and commercial facilities that meet IPM guidelines. A closer look at some of the institute's requirements can offer managers a framework for making the move to IPM.
To achieve the Green Shield certification, a facility must meet minimum requirements. For example, the facility needs to meet legal requirements for posting and notification of pesticide applications, for pesticide applicator training and certification, and for recordkeeping on pesticide application. The facility also must provide proper personal protective equipment and ensure it is in good condition and used when appropriate.
The facility also must have corresponding copies of the pesticide label and material safety data sheets for applied pesticides in a central location and available to staff or the public.