Basking in the sun under global warming

In the grounds-care business, the weather is a powerful factor in determining your grounds management plans, expenditures and profits. I don't think there is a single grounds manager who doesn't think about the weather as he or she starts a day. Irrigation (the focus of this issue) gives you some control over weather factors by providing moisture when plants need it and by cooling them as it evaporates. But what happens when Big Brother turns off the water when drought conditions persist as they did last summer in the East? What will happen this year? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would lead you to believe that we are on our way to drought-related problems this year, too.

The NOAA found that temperatures in the United States during the first quarter of this year were the hottest on record (see "Market Update" on page 6). At a press conference in April, NOAA Administrator D. James Baker and Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt implied that the warm winter over the United States is part of a larger pattern of global warming. What they didn't mention was that the rest of the planet was actually cooler than normal during the same period. So much for their global-warming implication.

Back to the question, "Is it going to happen this year?" Nobody knows for sure-not even NOAA scientists. The NOAA has all kinds of climate models, but they are far from infallible in predicting actual climate changes. This is why there is a lack of consensus among scientists on the issue of global warming. This hasn't stopped some politicians and the mainstream news media from jumping with both feet onto the global warming bandwagon. I don't think any major weather event occurs that some commentator isn't linking it to global warming. What are they so worried about anyway? I kind of enjoyed the warmer weather we experienced last winter, especially the money we all saved on heating bills.

As I mentioned, irrigation is one tool you can use to battle the elements-as long as you design and install it properly and there are no watering bans in effect. Brian Vinchesi, a design engineer with Irrigation Consulting, Inc., provides the basics of irrigation design and installation in "Irrigation 101," a three-part series beginning on page 10.

Even the best-designed irrigation systems are not immune to leaks. Whether the source of the leak is a cracked pipe or fitting or a leaking joint, you must identify the cause and repair it or forever be plagued with a leaky system. Was water hammer responsible? Did you try to bend rigid pipe too much during installation? Was the leak the result of a poor solvent cement job? Larry Workman, national product manager for Lasco Fittings, outlines the steps you need to follow for successful repairs in "How to: Repair irrigation system breaks" on page 49.

After you repair a break, you need local control of your system for testing the repaired section. Rather than wasting time by going back and forth between your central controller and the break, you can use a hand-held remote to turn thesystem on and off while you are at the site. "Equipment options" on page 30 focuses on remote irrigation controllers to give you an overview of the units available to you.

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