Precise, efficient, cost-effective, a plethora of industry advancements in irrigation combine high-tech with practicality to provide smart options for every sports field program and budget. And, according to feedback from suppliers, there is more yet to come. Read on to check out the latest offerings.


Rain Bird’s LX Series Controllers are easy to install and to use. The ESP-LXME, shown here, can operate up to 48 stations
PHOTO COURTESY OF RAIN BIRD.

New for 2011, Rain Bird’s (http://www.rainbird.com) LX Series Controllers include the ESP-LXME for traditionally wired control and the ESP-LXD for two-wire decoder-based control, replacing older Rain Bird ESP-LX modular controllers and MDC2 controllers, respectively. Christen Funk, product manager-controllers, landscape irrigation products, says, “Special features include: Water Window by Program; Simulstations (five stations running simultaneously for ESP-LXME; 8 for ESP-LXD); Station Priorities, allowing the field manager to set station run by priority rather than sequentially; FloWatch to detect high and low flow within the system; and FloManager, combining stations to run together to maximize efficiencies, thus shortening the total irrigation watering window. Both are flow sensor and weather sensor configurable and compatible with the ET Manager Cartridge, allowing operation as a standalone controller using ET data to adjust days to water and run time.”

Designed to handle large and demanding situations, like those sports field managers face, the ESP-LXME can operate up to 48 stations and the ESP-LXD up to 200 stations, and both can be customized for specific field needs.

The LX Series controllers are compatible with Rain Bird’s IQv2.0 Central Control software, introduced in 2011 to replace the version 1.0 IQ software. Funks says, “Several improvements have been made, including offering various Advanced Feature Packs for software upgrades in communications, programming, flow sensing and ET features. There are embedded modems for the various communication cartridges to send data between the controller and the IQv2.0 Central Computer. Methods of communication include phone modem, GPRS cellular modem, Ethernet or WIFI LAN, direct connect cable or spread spectrum radio.”

With IQv2.0, sports field managers can remotely operate and monitor controllers 24 hours a day, even receiving an email alert on their smartphone if a break occurs. Funk says, “It’s easy to use, with click-friendly buttons that help program and operate the controllers, and it comes with a year of free support services through our expert GSP program. Combining the LX Series controllers with the IQv2.0 software will save money through reduced power usage, reduced water loss and liability and reduced labor.” For additional information on these two products, visit the microsite: http://www.rainbird.com/esplxseries.


This close-up shows a Hunter ST System installation in action from a sideline placement.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER INDUSTRIES.

According to product manager Rich Dunn, Hunter Industries’ (http://www.hunterindustries.com) new ST System of complementary products is designed to meet and exceed the needs of the growing synthetic turf irrigation (STI) market. The ST System features gear-drive long-range rotors coupled with a special multi-axis swing joint, low pressure loss valves and a specially developed enclosure.


Hunter’s ST-1600 long-range gear driven rotor is at work on this field.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HUNTER INDUSTRIES.

Features of that enclosure include: construction-grade fiberglass in the body, a high-impact-resistant composite plastic on the exposed upper rim and a nearly indestructible polymer-concrete cover set. Together, they form a durable enclosure that is rated at 20,000-plus pounds, yet is easy to install at 105 pounds (with the covers removed). The 2-inch-thick, three-piece, polymer-concrete cover has a perfectly located cast-in hole for the STG-900 rotor on one side. This design allows the rotor to be held perfectly to grade within the hole while the enclosure is backfilled from the exposed opposite side. The cast-in quick coupler port and cover on the opposite side eliminate the need for separate quick coupler enclosures around the playing field.

The Hunter ST System utilizes a valve-adjacent-to-head (VAH) configuration, lowering pressure loss to 4 PSI. The ST valve and fitting kit (STVBVFK) includes a heavy-duty Hunter ICV-151 valve, a high-pressure 235 PSI rated ball valve, and all the fittings needed to couple the assembly to the swing joint. Dunn says, “The ST System provides installation flexibility and long-term total access to all components.”


Weathermatic offers a two-wire option in the SL1600 controllers. Next Generation firmware brings greater flexibility to the sports field manager.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WEATHERMATIC.

Weathermatic’s SmartLine irrigation control systems (http://www.smartline.com”) provide climate-based watering using weather data generated using on-site sensors. H. Gene Johnson, Weathermatic tech support, says, “SmartLine controllers accept user inputs by zone for sprinkler type, plant type, soil type, slope and a zone fine-tune adjustment factor. The units then incorporate a zip code input (for solar radiation) and an on-site weather monitor to calculate real-time ET estimates that are coordinated with user inputs to calculate proper zone run times, including cycle/soak, at user-selected start times and watering days.”


Underhill’s long-throw M-160 is now available in the M-160 Sports Field Kit to facilitate design and installation of the irrigation system for synthetic turf
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNDERHILL INTERNATIONAL.

The Weathermatic SmartLine controller/weather monitor package does not require communication with remote servers to obtain weather data or irrigation schedules, and there are no ongoing service costs. Advanced functions include zone-to-zone and master valve timing delays, a built-in valve locator, and a diagnostic function that displays the electrical current by zone for troubleshooting. Weathermatic offers a two-wire option with the SL1600 series controllers. The SLRC remote control option is also available.”

UgMO, which stands for underground monitoring, is an underground wireless soil moisture sensor system. According to Kristin Schinella, director of marketing for UgMO Technologies (http://www.ugmo.com), it utilizes digital frequency domain technology that uses a specific frequency to measure soil moisture and soil temperature separately from each other, performing with less than 1 percent margin of error in precision and accuracy. Sensors positioned in the rootzone of the soil profile (at a 3 to 4-inch depth) collect and report up to six times an hour, providing real-time conditions.

Underhill International’s (www.underhill.us) M-160 (Mirage) long-throw sprinklers, installed around the perimeter of synthetic turf fields, provide cool-down syringing and cleaning of the playing surface. The company recently introduced the M-160 Sports Field Kit, which facilitates the design and installation of a complete M-160 synthetic turf irrigation system from sprinkler to isolation valve. The kit features a detailed AutoCad illustration of the M-160 irrigation system layout and all hard components necessary for installation, including the M-160 long-throw sprinkler, with up to 164-foot coverage; Mirage stainless steel Turf Box for enclosure of the M-160 sprinkler; 3-inch lateral isolation valve; Mirage 3-inch electric sleeve valve; ductile iron swing joints and all necessary fittings and assemblies.


Irrigation from the sidelines underway following installation of Underhill’s M-160 Sports Field Kit.
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNDERHILL INTERNATIONAL.

The M-160 Sports Field Kit with the stainless steel Turf Box enclosure eliminates disturbance of the synthetic surface during routine sprinkler maintenance. The Turf Box lid screws off, and the M-160 internal mechanisms can be accessed through the top of the sprinkler. The synthetic turf is laid up to the edges of the Turf Box lid, which is covered in Trex Polywood. Once set in place, the turf never needs to be taken up. The 16-gauge stainless steel Turf Box sits 18 inches below grade and measures 15 inches high by 18 inches wide. Drip holes prevent standing water.


Cadman’s new 1100 Mini Irrigation Traveller combines the latest technology with simplified design features for easy operation and top efficiency
PHOTO COURTESY OF CADMAN.

New from Cadman (www.cadmanpower.com) are the 1100 and 1250 Mini Irrigation Travellers. Mitch Maddox, director of sales and marketing, says, “They combine the latest technology with simplified design features for uncomplicated operation yet extremely efficient use of water. The 1100 unit comes with 1.1-inch ID, 265-foot irrigation hose; the 1250 with 1.25-inch ID by 240-foot hose.”

Both units are battery powered, and the handle design offers three positions: storage, towing and hand-portable so the user can push or pull the unit. Operation is simple: place the traveler at the end of the area you want to irrigate, hook it to the water source, and pull it to the opposite end. Both models offer adjustable retraction speed control, from 3 to 25 inches per minute. They automatically shut off when the area has been covered, eliminating overwatering at the end of the run.

Netafim Techline CV, from Netafim (www.netafimusa.com), is now manufactured with recycled materials, an industry first that provides an opportunity to earn additional LEED credits. The new product offers the same design flexibility, specifications and seven-year warranty that Techline CV has always featured.

Techline CV offers a range of technical advantages for subsurface irrigation of sports fields, including two PSI check valves in each dripper for equalized application of water throughout the system (all drippers turn on and off at the same time); check valves to hold back up to 4.5 inches of water with no low emitter drainage, making it ideal for areas with elevation change; continuous self-flushing of debris throughout operation, not just at the beginning or end of a cycle; pressure compensation for delivery of equal amounts of water over a broad pressure range (14.7 to 70 PSI); and a dripper design that provides a physical root barrier to protect the internal system without chemicals.

With Techline CV installed belowground, irrigation is delivered directly to the root zone in precise, measured droplets (0.26 to 0.9 GPH). Water use is optimized because there is no evaporation, overspray, runoff or directional impact from winds. Sports fields that irrigate with Techline CV report a 30 to 70 percent water savings. An automated drip system also saves labor.

Field use can continue during the irrigation process. Because the installation “disappears” within the field, it provides a solution for parks and public areas where high-traffic/high-liability issues and vandalism are concerns.


Kochek’s Dura-Flow hose is flexible, durable and non-kinking.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KOCHEK CO., INC.

Kochek Co., Inc. (www.kochek.com) developed the Dura-Flow Hose with the sports field manager in mind, designing it to be flexible, durable and non-kinking with superior performance. Sales representative Dave Mihailides says, “While most irrigation systems have pressures ranging from 50 PSI [city pressure] to 120 PSI, Dura-Flow has a working pressure rating of 250 PSI to easily withstand the higher pressures during irrigation via hose and nozzles. It provides the durability for years of use without bubbling, fraying, splitting or having fittings fail. It was designed with an exterior texture and color for UV resistance and a smooth ID wall for maximum flow.” Dura-Flow is offered in 1 inch or .75 inch ID in multiple lengths, with custom lengths available.

The author is a contributing editor for SportsField Management.