Precision Turf provides savings and flexibility for Wensum Valley Golf & Country Club
14 November 2023 Product Updates
We spoke to Stephen at Wensum Valley Golf Club. In May last year, Stephen bought AutoTrac™ , a StarFire™ and a display, which he said was a big investment but ‘would recommend to anyone’. Initially, he struggled with the screen but said that with use he has become very confident with the technology.
Stephen’s journey with Precision Ag started with boundary mapping which he did with a trolley and on foot. This immediately revealed that instead of 2ha (a figure they used for applications), the total hectarage was in fact 1.6ha. Knowing the exact hectarage has saved input costs. Using the calculator function on his display he worked out that this would’ve saved him £4,500 in spray costs per year. Spraying weekly with foliar feed, wetting agents, seaweed among other things, the savings quickly add up – especially when fungicides can cost up to £695/ha!
The saving in input costs alone gives a short return on investment. That’s before you factor in the labour saving costs. With 36 holes to spray, he worked out that using technology saves him an hour every time he goes out spraying. While Stephen can use blob markers to mark out sprayer paths on the fairways, they are too harsh on the fine greens grass. He had been using a second person to mark out where to spray but with this technology he no longer needs a second person!
Using section control, Stephen can now drive where he wants at any angle and ‘flitter about’ the fairways in any order with full confidence that: he can fill the tank when convenient, will be applying the right amount of product, won’t be overspraying, and reduce compaction. A ProGator with up to 750l of liquid is heavy: to reduce compaction further, Stephen has started using the shift boundaries feature. He shifts the guidance line by a set distance and continues his task. He now avoids driving over the cups without over or under applying.
The Operations Center keeps an accurate record of what he applies wirelessly, so he never has to worry about manually filling out a sheet. He has also marked out water zones with a 3m buffer to adhere to his LERAPS. Using section control, he can drive near these buffers with full confidence that the chemicals won’t go into the buffer zone.
There are two other spray operators, who can ‘easily’ pick up spray jobs when he is not there. They find the tank mix from the display which shows them the products and volumes. Once they have filled up with the right tank mix, and the right volume, they can drive where they want to start, select the field on the display, press new work and it sets it all up for them.
As he has gained confidence in the technology, Stephen has started to move the Starfire™ and display onto other machines. All he has to do is adjust the implement width. He saw a huge benefit when attaching the receiver onto the aerator. He could accurately spike the whole field, and flag the ‘pop-up’ irrigators on his John Deere Operations CenterTM . This saves a hefty £700 each time the tines don’t spike through an irrigator because they can’t be seen! He also put both on his tractor and seeder, so he could accurately plant seed. When he was doing this manually his row spacing was up to 40cm out, and worse when visibility was poor such as early in the morning or when foggy. Now he doesn’t have to worry about early work, or the fog because he’s got the guidance lines.