New Waves May 2010

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

Engineers: smart irrigation controllers get a little smarter

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="230" caption="Charles Swanson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service program specialist, programs smart irrigation controllers at a College Station test site. An irrigation study found many smart controllers applied several times more water than was needed. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo)"]Engineers - smart irrigation controllers get a little smarter by Texas Water Resources Institute, on Flickr[/caption]

In the second year of a two-year study of 10 "smart" irrigation controllers, Texas AgriLife Extension Service experts found some performed well, some needed work and others were still not so smart at all.

"When looking at total seasonal irrigation amounts for the entire landscape, only two controllers were within the recommendations of TexasET (Texas Evapotranspiration Network)," said Charles Swanson, AgriLife Extension program specialist. "The remaining eight controllers put out significantly more water than would have been needed."

"Also, total irrigation volumes for each zone, instead of being about the same, ranged from three to five times as much water from controller to controller," said Dr. Guy Fipps," AgriLife Extension engineer with the Texas A&M University Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

Smart controllers refer to irrigation units that use weather data and calculate the correct amount of water needed by lawns and landscape plants. Ordinary "dumb" controllers rely on timers and require human intervention, Swanson said. Smart controllers have been heralded as environmentally sound when compared to ordinary, timed controllers, which, due to human error or lack of management, often apply two to three times more water than necessary. The full report is posted on the irrigation technology website.

Read the full AgriLife News story here.

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