Research Update

Y2K: Danger Will Robinson! With all the talk about the year 2000 problem (Y2K), I was wondering: Do I have anything to worry about with regards to my irrigation-control system?-Idaho Department of Fish and Game

From simple pin-setting mechanisms to highly technical computer programming, irrigation-system controls vary a great deal. Some programmable systems and all computer-administered irrigation systems have date-dependent, embedded-microchip technology. Obviously, you should check with your manufacturer to obtain specific information regarding your control box. According to Joe Childers of Irritrol Systems, some PC-based controllers may only recognize the last two digits of the date instead of all 4 numbers. However, he says that any system with microprocessor technology is likely to recognize the year 2000. A representative of Rain Bird Inc. says that most systems purchased within the last 5 years should be Y2K compliant. Every indication is that if your system is 5 or fewer years old, your turf will be properly irrigated on Jan. 1, 2000, and beyond. But, the safety of your mutual-fund-account portfolio is another story.

To use a valve box or not to use a valve box... I'm making additions to my irrigation system. Are valve boxes absolutely necessary?-Address unknown (via the internet)

The simple answer is no, you don't have to use a valve box-you could just bury the valve in soil. However, if you have to make repairs on the valve, you are going to have a messy job on your hands. Also, when digging for repairs, you'll more than likely cut the electric wires as you try to reach the valve. Finding and splicing those wires in earth and mud will exceed the limit of anyone's patience. Install a box-it will make your life easier in the long run. If you are cost-conscious, you can make a homemade valve box out of a 1- to 5-gallon plastic bucket. It will have to be completely buried, so mark the location so you can find it later.

Install a 4-inch-deep layer of gravel in the hole on which the box can rest. This will help prevent it from sinking and will aid drainage. Don't add rock after the box is in the ground-this won't do any good.

Will the well run dry? I am thinking of using ground water to irrigate my golf course. How can I be sure that I won't deplete an existing water supply?-San Antonio (via the internet)

You can do research to determine how the withdrawal of groundwater will affect the water supply of your area. The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) can help you. You can reach them via the internet. Based on yourfindings, irrigation requirements can be altered, if necessary, to prevent any impact or depletion. Alternatives to groundwater, such as effluents, appear in an article in this issue of Grounds Maintenance. Recycled water for irrigation can lessen the demand on potable water supplies.

Information from the EPA regarding its Phase-2 emissions standards indicates that by 2008, all non-hand-held and hand-held equipment engines must comply with new regulations. Phase 2 was originally scheduled to become effective on Dec. 23, 1998. However, legal issues and feasibility problems caused them to seek an extension of regulation implementation deadlines.

The EPA's Phase 2 Regulations divide engine size into two groups and five classes. The class levels are determined by engine displacement (cc).

Group one: non hand-held equipment engines

*Class 1: These engines are less than 225cc and must comply with all Phase-2 Regulations by August 1, 2007 (for the 2008 model year). All new Class 1 engines (new designs, not carry-overs) introduced on or after August 1, 2003, must comply with Phase-2 regulations when built. *Class 2: These engines are more than 225cc. Phase-2 regulations for them will be phased in between 2001 and 2005. By 2005 model year, all Class-2 engines must be in compliance. Group two: hand-held equipment engines *Class 3: (under 20cc) *Class 4: (20 to 50cc) *Class 5: (50cc and over). Phase-2 regulation proposals will be adopted by the end of June 1999. They will be implemented in March 2000. Phase-in of these regulations will begin in 2001 and continue through 2005.

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