Irrigation Efficiency Showcased at Oct. 24 Turfgrass Field Day

New Mexico State University’s study of irrigation efficiency, a 41,000-square-foot series of subsurface drip and sprinkler irrigated plots, highlighted the Turfgrass Field Day at NMSU’s Fabian Garcia Research Center.

“Our goal is to show that subsurface irrigation is a viable alternative to sprinklers,” says Bernhard Leinauer, turfgrass specialist with NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service. “Subsurface has improved water distribution with no overlap or evaporation during irrigation.”

In drip irrigation, water is applied directly to plant roots through a series of black plastic lines or drip tape buried more than a foot deep. Using subsurface irrigation reduces wind drift, says Leinauer. “All too often during the windy season we have water carrying all the way to Texas.”

The turf trial features an alternating series of 5 percent slopes followed by flat areas. “Whenever the subject of subsurface irrigation comes up, the first question is, ‘Does it work in sloped areas?’” says Leinauer. “It was an important factor in designing the experiment.”

Construction on the new turf project began last year. It was seeded last May and is now fully established. Creeping bentgrass, used on many of the state’s golf greens, was selected as the turf because it is one of the most intensively maintained grasses in New Mexico, says Leinauer.

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