Irrigation is one of the most controversial aspects in the sustainable management of golf courses. Researchers from the Canary Islands have spent 25 years analysing the practices relating to reclaimed water at one of the oldest golf courses in Spain. The results show that plants on the course receive 83% more water than they need.
"Excessive amounts of water are used, and this cannot be justified from any perspective", Mara del Pino Palacios Daz, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Animal Pathology, Animal Production and Food Science and Technology at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, tells SINC.
Despite the high cost of water (around 0.4 per cubic meter), the amount of water used on golf courses in the Canary Islands continues to be "excessive". On the golf course studied, plants receive more than 83% more water than they need, which reduces the risk of substances accumulating in the soil, but increases the risk of contaminating the aquifer.
The researchers have confirmed this on the basis of a "detailed" analysis of the nutrients and other substances contained in the reclaimed water, and by studying how this is absorbed by the soil and plants, how it travels through the unsaturated area, and the likelihood of it reaching the aquifer.
The research, which has been published in the Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, also looked at the effect of re-using water reclaimed from desalinated urban water on soil fertility and the health of the greens between 1982 and 2007 at the Royal Golf Club of Las Palmas, one of the oldest courses in Spain and a "model" club in terms of how it is managed.
According to Palacios Daz, although the study focused on a single golf course, the results could be extrapolated "to others in semi-arid or arid areas that are irrigated using water from urban or marine sources, and with similar soil characteristics".
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FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology