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Experts Explain: Hand Watering Versus Syringing

Posted: 7/10/2013

Is syringing and hand watering the same thing? I hear both frequently but have never understood the difference between the two, if there even is a difference? (Texas)

Hand Watering - Experts Explain

There is good reason for the confusion because hand watering includes any time water is applied manually, and syringing is a form of hand watering. Depending on the amount of water applied and the purpose for doing so, hand watering may be the same as syringing, or it could be entirely different.

Generally speaking, hand watering is a supplemental form of irrigation to the automated irrigation system with the purpose of replenishing soil moisture that has been lost to evaporation and transpiration, which is collectively known as evapotranspiration (ET). Although great effort goes into the design of automated irrigation systems, even the most sophisticated systems cannot apply water evenly to all areas of greens, approaches, fairways or tees, nor does every area of the golf course require the same amount of water. Hand watering is the best way to accurately supplement overhead irrigation to areas in need of more water during the day without overwatering areas that don’t.

When hand watering is performed in a very specific way to apply only small amounts of water to the turf, it is called syringing. The goal is to wet the leaf surface and not the soil. It may fulfill several objectives, such as removing dew or frost, but primarily syringing is performed to prevent or correct a leaf water deficit, i.e., wilt, or cool the turf canopy via evaporation (compare to the cooling effect when sweat evaporates from a golfer’s skin). During severe heat stress or periods of rapid water loss (usually low relative humidity and windy conditions), syringing may be necessary multiple times throughout the day.

So, when you observe manual watering during your round of golf, how do you know for which purpose it is being applied? If the maintenance worker is pointing the hose downward (as in the photo), then water is being added to the soil as a supplement to the overhead irrigation system. For syringing, the hose will be pointed slightly upward so that a light amount of water will accumulate on the turf foliage only.


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