Overview of the Golf Course Irrigation System

An efficient irrigation system is crucial for proper maintenance of any golf course. It ensures adequate water supply to keep the turfgrass and landscape plants healthy while conserving water. Golf course irrigation systems consist of components like pumps, valves, sprinklers, pipelines, weather stations, and central control systems.

The irrigation system pumps draw water from sources like lakes, ponds or wells and deliver it through mainlines and submains to the sprinkler heads spread across the golf course. Solenoid valves connected to these pipelines open and close automatically based on irrigation schedules to control water flow to different sections of the course.

Importance of Efficient Management in Golf Course Maintenance

Efficient utilization and management of the irrigation system is key for quality upkeep of the expansive landscape in a golf course. Superintendent and grounds managers have to ensure flawless operation of the various irrigation components for uniform distribution of water.

Factors like changing weather patterns, soil moisture levels etc. have to be monitored to make dynamic adjustments to the irrigation schedule. Quick identification and rectification of any faults/leaks is also critical. This requires real-time tracking and control mechanisms.

Need for a Remote Control and Monitoring Solution

Manual monitoring by personnel going around the golf course is time-consuming, inefficient and lacks real-time response. Remote control and telemetry systems fulfill this need for automated supervision and administration of the widespread irrigation network from a central/remote location.

The superintendent can track flow rates, pressures, valve status, moisture level changes etc. and identify issues promptly to activate alternate schedules. Rapid fault diagnosis and rectification leads to water and energy conservation. Remote adjustments to watering durations/frequencies can be made as needed without having to send personnel onsite.

Remote Control of Golf Irrigation System

Components of the Remote Control Solution

Pump Station

1. Functionality

The golf course pump stations are the critical starting points for the irrigation water supply. Submersible or vertical turbine pumps housed in concrete wells/pits draw water from the source to feed into the mainlines.

The pump motors need to be controlled remotely to adjust output capacity based on dynamic irrigation schedules for the various turf areas. Their functioning and health must be monitored 24/7 to identify any failures. Flow meters record and transmit real-time readings.

2. Integration with Motors and Allen-Bradley PLC via Modbus

The pumps’ electric motors can be integrated into the automation architecture using appropriate hardware and software gateways. Common communication protocols like Modbus enables the motors to transmit sensor data to and receive control signals from the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).

Widely used PLC platforms like the Allen-Bradley ControlLogix range can modulate the pumps’ output speeds. Automated alerts notify pump failures prompting manual checks or shutdowns to prevent damage.

PLC (Programmable Logic Controller)

1. Role in the Irrigation System

The PLC works as the automation hub collating sensor inputs and transmitting operation controls out to field devices like valves, pumps, meters etc via Modbus interfaces.

It is programmed with irrigation logic that processes real-time data and benchmarks it against setpoints. Output signals are initiated based on this analysis, driving actuation of various hardware components.

2. Real-time Data Monitoring via VNC/HMI

A Visual Network Computing (VNC) client enables remote viewing and control of the PLC system as virtual desktops through secure internet protocols. System administrators can troubleshoot or alter control logic as needed.

Similarly, a Human Machine Interface (HMI) terminal lets supervisors monitor irrigation operations in real-time. Sensor measurements are logged and displayed as trends/reports using integrated SCADA software.

Gateway (AR7088H VPN Gateway)

AR7088H Industrial Router 3 LAN Dual SIM Card

1. Connection with Onsite PLC, HMI and Windows PC

The AR7088H industrial VPN router provides the communication gateway from golf course to the remote engineering center. It has multiple LAN ports for wired connections to onsite devices – PLC, HMI, irrigation valve controllers or a Windows PC.

2. Internet Connectivity and Global IP Address Usage

The router has an inbuilt cellular modem supporting industrial-grade 4G/LTE connectivity. It gets a unique public WAN IP address, routing all data from course equipment to the cloud and remote engineering team servers.

3. Private IP to Global IP Mapping

The AR7088H maps local private IP addresses to its global IP for bi-directional equipment data transfers. This NAT translation enables internet access for irrigation components without changing their network settings.

Remote Monitoring Capabilities

1. Accessing HMI Web Service on PC and Mobile Devices

The irrigation management software HMI has an integrated web server, hosted on the golf course office computer connected to the PLCs. The AR7088H maps requests to this web server from remote devices to the computer’s private IP.

The engineers can monitor irrigation performance metrics dashboards and analytics charts on their PC browser or mobile app. Sophisticated data visualization permits diagnosis of faults.

2. Conducting Remote PLC Programming and Maintenance

The remote engineering team can access the ControlLogix PLC using Allen-Bradley’s Studio5000 programming software. The AR7088H router maps this communication over VPN tunnel through firewalls.

Program modifications to adjust irrigation schedules based on weather or overlays of new turf areas can be uploaded seamlessly by the specialists without needing an onsite visit.

3. Utilizing VNC Client for Windows PC Remote Desktop Access

A VNC viewer program on the engineer’s computer secures connects via the AR7088H router to the golf course irrigation control room machine. This gives complete remote desktop control for software upgrades or hands-on troubleshooting.

Solution for Remote Irrigation Control

Establishment of Remote Network

1. Connection between Remote Sites and Engineers

Historically, custom APN solutions or dial-up modems were installed to create expensive private networks between golf courses and engineering central offices. Public internet infrastructure or cellular connectivity entails lower hardware costs today.

2. Utilization of Global IP Address

Dynamic Global IP address allocation using industrial cellular routers has replaced reliance on static Public IP which required dedicated leased lines previously. It still delivers reliable uptime with VPN encryption.

Motor Connectivity and Modbus Protocol

1. Integration of Motors with Allen-Bradley PLC

Interfacing of irrigation motors to PLCs used to require I/O cards or additional signal converters earlier. With shift to distributed architectures and Modbus industrial protocol adoption, smart VFD drives and motors can now integrate directly.

2. Communication Protocols for Efficient Control

Hardwired analog/digital signals limited control flexibility between PLC and field devices. Modern plug-and-play digitized protocols like Modbus-RTU, Modbus-TCP enable software driven automation.

AR7088H Industrial VPN Gateway

1. Ethernet Connection with Onsite PLC, HMI and Windows PC

Conventional SCADA and telemetry solutions depended on proprietary backends with vendor lock-ins. The AR7088 router offers open industrial networking to locally integrate PLC, HMI and PC.

2. Global IP Address for Internet Connectivity

Legacy machine connectivity relied on static public IPs or host servers at golf course implementing NAT protocol. With cellular AR7088H gateways, dynamic global IPs smoothly enable cloud access.

3. Private IP to Global IP Mapping

Previously, source network address translation (SNAT) had to be performed by on-premise servers like Windows NT machine before internet routing. The AR7088H comprehensively handles this IP schema transition internally.

Private IP to Global IP Mapping

1. Functionality of AR7088H in Mapping Private IPs to Global IPs

The cellular VPN router has an inbuilt NAT module to translate private local IPs like 192.168.1.X, 10.10.X.X, 172.16.X.X to its temporary public WAN IP like 166.23.X.X provided by the cellular carrier.

This allows devices with only private addressing to symmetrically connect over the internet. The gateway handles the IP schema transformations automatically without needing static IPs or port mapping.

Remote Access for Programming and Monitoring

1. Web Service Access on PC and Mobile Devices

With conventional SCADA systems, building dashboards required complex front-end programming with developer resources. Modern HMI platforms provide ready web server modules and cross-platform apps out-of-the-box for simplified deployment.

2. Remote PLC Programming Features

Earlier modems and proprietary programming tools offered very limited debugging capabilities for remote automation engineers. Allen-Bradley’s Studio5000 IDE now delivers advanced remote editing, simulation and troubleshooting options.

3. VNC Client for Windows PC Remote Desktop Access

Legacy remote desktop programs were mostly terminal emulators with text interfaces only. Modern VNC clients support full graphical UI connectivity secured by VPN tunneling through the AR7088H router. It enables unconstrained software access.


Summary of the Remote Control Solution

In summary, adoption of cellular connectivity based router-gateways like AR7088H makes it feasible to implement comprehensive remote administration ecosystems for golf course irrigation with modest infrastructure costs.

Secure VPN links over public networks can be created between field sensors, motors drives, metering devices and engineering central offices quite flexibly. Open standard industrial protocols promote interoperability between diverse hardware vendors.

Advantages in Achieving Efficient Golf Course Management

Automated remote tracking and control functionality enhance reliability of widespread irrigation infrastructure like pipelines, pumps, valves across acres of golf course terrain.

It helps conserve water, electricity and manpower resources by preventing hydraulic failures or overwatering. Marshaling telemetry dataanalytics also assists long term capital upgrades planning through predictive maintenance capabilities.

Future Prospects and Enhancements in Remote Irrigation Control

With cellular carriers upgrading to high bandwidth 5G connectivity, cloud-based SCADA and decision support systems leveraging IoT platforms would become more viable and affordable. AI powered analytics combined with geospatial drone infrared imagery and precision sensors can usher smart water management.

Integrating intelligent mesh networks running edge controller nodes powered by solar cells can extend remote administration deeper across the course, eliminating complex cabling. Use of IoT devices also fosters water conservation by site-specific dispensation attuned with microclimate differentials.


What is irrigation system controller?

An irrigation system controller works as the control center to operate valves for water delivery through various networked pipelines to desired turfed zones across the golf course as scheduled. It sends actuation signals to solenoid valves and monitors flow sensors.

How do you control irrigation?

Efficient irrigation control involves dynamic modulation of watering durations and frequencies for different parts of the golf course based on real-time conditions. The automated controller changes schedules responding to sensor data – e.g. reducing cycles when rain is forecast or limiting watering on windy days to curtail spray evaporation losses.

How do I choose an irrigation controller?

Factors influencing irrigation controller selection are: number of valve stations supported as per site requirements, type of networking (wired, wireless), flexibility to create complex event-based schedules, capacity for integrations with soil moisture sensors, weather meters, master valves. Also assess if remote connectivity option is available for access via web or mobile apps.

What are the sensors used in automatic irrigation system?

Some common sensors integrated with automated irrigation controllers for optimal water management include soil moisture probes, temperature and humidity sensors, anemometers, flow meters, water quality analyzers, rain gauges, levels detectors (for ponds/reservoirs), valve control feedback encoders and master valve pressure transducers.