Equipment & irrigation

Regulations and the contractor I own a mid-sized landscape-contracting firm in the Midwest and am concerned about the EPA's new emission regulations. What do they mean to me?-Indiana

They really have no impact on you or your business in a direct sense. The responsibility for emission compliance falls on the shoulders of the manufacturers of string trimmers, blowers, edgers and other hand-held power equipment. You can legally own and operate equipment you purchased in the past. The regulations only apply to new machines.

A brief review of why these regulations came about may be helpful to you. Gasoline engines produce three types of emissions: hydrocarbons (HC), nitric oxides (NOX) and carbon monoxide (CO). Small, 4-stroke, spark-ignition engines under 50 hp (the type you and most other contractors use), contribute a minimal amount of the total man-made HC, NOX and CO emissions. These emissions come from the engine exhaust, spilled gasoline and evaporation.

The EPA Phase I regulations (in effect now) call for substantial emissions reductions from unregulated products. Beginning in 2001 and running through 2005, EPA Phase II regulations will be in force. It is estimated that these regulations will reduce emissions from small gasoline engines by roughly 75 percent.

Higher standards I've just purchased some new mowers and string trimmers. They have a triangle sticker with the letters "ANSI" on them. What does this mean?-North Carolina

This sticker signifies that your products are certified from an independent testing company called the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The ANSI testing program ensures that certain equipment meets nationally recognized voluntary safety standards. You will notice a number on the bottom of the triangle that relates to the specific product and the year the standard was last updated.

The Stimpmeter has long been the standard tool for measuring green speed. However, it also is the primary method of assessing green uniformity. Typical ball-roll distances fall within the range of 180 to 370 cm, and, according to one researcher, a course is considered to have uniform greens if all ball-roll distances fall within a range of 15 cm. However, this only indicates green-to-green uniformity, and not uniformity within a single green. Realizing this, a team of University of Nebraska researchers sought to create a method of measuring uniformity within a single ball roll, and thus on a single green.

Such a measurement requires several measurements of ball speed as the ball crosses the green surface during a single roll, for which no device is currently available. After eliminating radar (such as that used to measure baseball speeds) and high-speed photography as options, the researchers devised a system using photoelectric switches, an electronic clock, a personal computer, a length of PVC tubing and a Stimpmeter (see illustration, above). After a ball is released from the Stimpmeter, it enters the tube, which rests on the green surface. As the ball rolls, it interrupts the infrared beams of a series of photoelectric switches mounted within the tube. The computer records the resulting data and generates output describing the speed of the ball at intervals throughout its roll.

To test the accuracy of this system in detecting non-uniformity, the researchers measured ball rolls on a green mowed once, another mowed twice (in the same direction) and an unmowed green. As expected, the unmowed green and the once-mowed green showed good uniformity (that is, the device detected no significant variability). On the twice-mowed green, however, the device detected non-uniform conditions. These apparently resulted from directional grain produced by mowing twice in the same direction. (This was not meant to simulate actually golf-course conditions--most courses that double-mow greens do so with perpendicular passes. It was merely a means of creating non-uniformity so as to test the device.)

The researchers feel that this system--which they refer to as a Golf Ball Deceleration Measuring System--offers a viable method of evaluating green-surface uniformity. It is portable, economical and appears to be highly accurate.

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