What We Do
Ontario is the largest provincial producer of sod in Canada, with 30% of the country’s growers (~65) and 39% of national revenues (~$50M) in 2011, according to StatsCan.
Many of these farms utilize irrigation to supplement precipitation. A study in 2007 commissioned by the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation found that one quarter of the average sod farm was irrigated. Additionally, of those farms with irrigation, 100% used a pond as a water source, 44% a well, 22% a lake and 11% a river.
During exceptionally dry periods such as the one endured in the summer of 2012, ponds and wells can run dry and water levels in rivers and lakes can drop significantly. Under these conditions, it becomes vital that any irrigation activities be carried out as efficiently as possible.
To address this challenge, TurfMonitor.com was launched with funding from Farm & Food Care Ontario’s Water Resources Adaptation & Management Initiative as a demonstration/research project to evaluate and promote technological solutions available towards simplifying efficient and sustainable use of water in sod production.
Weather and environmental parameters are measured at NSGAO-member locations throughout the province. These near-real-time observations, along with site-specific weather forecasts, drive irrigation and agronomic decision support tools.
The graphical interpretations and analyses provided on the site, including soil-moisture profiles, soil water balance calculations, and evapotranspiration forecasts, will facilitate more effective irrigation scheduling and smarter water consumption.
In addition to the benefits imparted to growers through the website tools, the project will also gather significant water-related benchmark data useful to the industry at-large.
For more on TurfMonitor.com’s technology and features, see the How It Works section.