Investigating best water practices for Perth’s parks and ovals

Wednesday, 30 January, 2013

Scientists are trying to find out how to keep public parks and ovals green while using less water.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) have started a three-year study of watering practices and soil wetting agents. The project - in partnership with horticulturalists, the turf industry and state and local government agencies - aims to find out how to improve water use efficiency.

“Public open spaces such as parks, sports ovals and recreation grounds provide an enormous benefit to the health, lifestyle and social wellbeing of West Australians,” Department of Water Director Water and Land Use Don Crawford said.

“However, with the drying climate in WA’s south-west and reduced water availability in many areas, turf managers are under increasing pressure to improve their water use.

“It is crucial we look at ways to do this while still maintaining public open spaces.”

A series of turf trial plots at the UWA Turf Research Facility in Shenton Park are being grown using a variety of water allocation levels, irrigation schedules and wetting agent application rates. The turf will be measured for quality, growth, colour and soil water repellence.

Results of the trial will assist in development of advice on the best use of water allocations on turf, improved environmental management outcomes and cost savings.

“Understanding how to best manage turf on current and possible lower future water allocations is critical for managing public open spaces,” explained Associate Professor Louise Barton from UWA’s Turf Research program.

“The research will increase understanding of factors affecting turf performance by providing evidence-based data about the role of current and reduced water allocations, irrigation practices and wetting agents on turf.

“This will help the industry establish best practices here in WA to suit local conditions.”

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