A Canadian superintendent takes disease and water management to new heights with an agronomic-focused drone program.
Paul Robertson, superintendent of links at Victoria Golf Club in the Canadian province of British Columbia, is a practical man.
“To more accurately schedule irrigation, we have been using Spectrum Technology’s TDR (time-domain reflectometry) units equipped with GPS, which record soil moisture tagged with the GPS coordinates of each spot sampled,” Robertson says. “We typically hire two student techs who do nothing but map the course, providing a representative idea of soil moisture. It’s very labor-intensive, gathering all that data by hand and converting it back into information you can use, just to adjust the irrigation system. Typically, we’ve been spending $10,000 a year on soil monitoring, and we were thinking, ‘There has got to be a better way.’”
Six months later, Robertson and Victoria GC joined five other facilities to become a main pilot site for GreenSight’s first-generation drone system. Two months after he began “flying,” Robertson saw the potential to not only relieve his staff of daily soil probing, but also to provide a daily bird’s-eye view of the entire golf course. The drone’s near-infrared and red-edge cameras, which spotlight chlorophyll, highlight all the places on the course where turf health has been compromised.