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COMPUTERIZED IRRIGATION SYSTEM FOR THE U-M GOLF COURSE
Summary:
The University of Michigan Golf Course installed a computerized irrigation system in 1992 to help conserve water, while maintaining the correct amount of moisture in the soil to ensure optimum turf growing conditions. By monitoring environmental and agronomic conditions at various points on the golf course, the system can adjust how much water is needed at each sprinkler head location. In addition, weather satellite stations communicate with the system to prevent watering if rainfall has occurred or is imminent. 

 

Applicable Regulations
State of Michigan Act 451 Part 327.

 

Overview of Procedure
The computerized irrigation system consists of a central control computer maintaining two-way communication with weather satellite stations in the field to monitor current conditions. Data from each sprinkler head on the golf course is pre-programmed into the system including the type, number of gallons per minute flow, and green, tee, or fairway location. Agronomic data including grass type, soil type and compaction, slope, area type, directional face of the head, tree locations, etc., are also programmed into the system.

The satellite stations monitor precipitation rates, infiltration rates, wind speed, transpiration (the process by which the plant cools itself and removes waste products from the plant tissue), and other environmental conditions. The information is relayed back to the central computer, which operates the individual sprinkler heads on the golf course. The computer will calculate appropriate water needs based on the weather input and pre-programmed data. Each sprinkler head is readjusted daily to operate according to environmental conditions.

 

Waste Minimization Procedure
Not applicable.

 

Known Limitations
Adequate electrical grounding must be provided to protect the computer microchips and other delicate electronic circuits from transient voltage surges (TVS). A TVS is a low-wattage, high voltage surge of electricity appearing spontaneously in wires near electromagnetic activity. If the computer grounding system has more resistance than the computer, the TVS will seek a way to surge through the computer circuits on its way to ground. This surge, though of short duration and power, can destroy the microchip and other electronic circuits.

The manufacturer recommends that computer-controlled irrigation systems have a grounding system with 10 ohms or less of resistance. Once in place, the grounding system should be checked annually.

 

Safety & Health Precautions/Personal Protective Equipment
Not applicable.

 

Benefits
When properly irrigated, healthy turf provides many environmental benefits including prevention of soil erosion, recharging of groundwater supplies and minimization of pesticides and fertilizers from reaching ground and surface water. The computerized irrigation system determines the proper amount of water to be applied to each area of the golf course to maintain healthy turf, avoiding overwatering that may lead to runoff.

In addition, the computerized irrigation system equalizes the hydraulic demand on pump stations, thus decreasing energy requirements and protecting against hydraulic overload. Cost savings and pollution prevention are realized from the decreased energy requirements.

Finally, a cost savings is realized through more efficient use of water and hydrologic resources, and reduction of person-hours required to monitor the irrigation of the entire golf course.

 

Disadvantages
None known.

 

Project Related Costs
Information not available.

 

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