“Can we afford a new irrigation system?”

By Alistair February 23, 2024 07:14

This winter, irrigation expert John Kidson has been asked several questions by clients as they prepare for the new season. Here, he answers the most common one of them all.

It’s been a very busy winter for me, as I’ve been focusing on installations and setting up our new premises, but it’s becoming that time of year when my phone starts to receive calls for advice on budgets and how best to tackle the year ahead.

With our irrigation season only around the corner I’m sure you’ve been having conversations such as budget, what to buy, the affordability of a new system, can the existing pump set last another year and questioning whether to buy ready spares.

In the last few magazine articles by myself, I’ve been asking people within the irrigation industry about their roles. For the next few issues, I thought we would look at some of the common questions I’ve been asked recently by clients.

Let’s kick off with the biggie!

Can you afford a new system?

With plenty of factors to dictate prices, there isn’t a simple yes or no, the cost of systems vary hugely. This is a small industry and clubs talk with other clubs. This leads to conversations such as ‘X club has just had a new system for X pounds but our quotes were much higher’.

This is a quick rundown of items I consider when pricing installations, and all of these can have a significant impact on the final costs.

Ground type. This helps to decide what size of machinery is required, backfilling and moving of soil, final finish expected and if the ground is likely to cause damage to the irrigation products on installation.

Services underground. This is a huge factor. Any site should know the services under their feet but if you’re unsure then start the process of finding out. Items buried like gas mains require hand digging either side and, in most cases, gas operatives on site for the process.

Be very careful as utility companies can fine you for working near or over their services without permission.

Access. We’ve all seen pictures of lorry loads of pipe ready for an installation, but can this happen on your course? Without access for an articulated lorry then multiple deliveries via small lorries will be required. Consider items like access rights via land owned by others, anything that requires pre booking or access blocked off.

Water storage. Does your current water storage meet your requirements? The most common answer is no. If that is the case then consider creating planning permission and the timescale aspect.

Be realistic. Everyone would make great use of a wall-to-wall fairway irrigation system, pathways and more water than you can put out each night. But this isn’t the case for most. Have a sit-down talk about the end aim of the system and what the price of that will be. Yes, it can be great to plan for future fairways, but this will likely increase pipe size and pump set size, and at least in the meantime will result in larger pipe work around the pump house and more common than not installing extra cable zones due to the increase in modules / decoders needed in the future. This also leads to a need for more communication and controller space / availability.

More products and larger products simply cost more… do you think the system will ever have the extra planned irrigation installed?

If yes, then planning to reduce costs is clearly the way forward, consider adding fairway valve boxes with pipe off takes and just cable loops in the meantime. This will save costs on phase two of the installation and won’t leave your course pepper potted with cable pots!

I did plan to answer a handful of questions but it seems I’ve written more than expected and only really touched on half of the key items I would cover in an initial client chat.

My advice for any club considering a new system or think they must have a new system is to spend a little investment at this stage with myself or similar and appraise the golf club leading to the creation of a site plan of action, key points, predicted existing life span and an overall understanding of the tasks ahead.

Follow John on social media @JKIrrigation


By Alistair February 23, 2024 07:14

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