Thursday, June 5, 2014

Don't Let your dog drive your control of irrigation.....after you fix the TOP 3.

Storms, Robert and I met yesterday and went over the new sensors coming out and that are currently available from our manufacturer partners.  I wanted to put this out there to the rest of the Cougar world. The future of or water conservation is in smart control and sensors so we are going to see more and more of them on our systems and other systems that we service. In addtion, lots of people have SMART PHONES and SMART THERMOSTATS ( NEST, HoneyWell) and SMART DOOR locks even, so it is inevitable that people want SMART IRRIGATION CONTROLLERS. The problems is smart controllers do no good if the irrigation system is not designed, installed and maintained properly. Programming the controller is also very subjective and cumbersome for someone who does not program controllers on a daily basis,

Some background and how each sensor collects data and uses it to calculate how much to water.

Here is a link to the closest commercial WeatherStation in Austin ( William morris Golf Course)

You can see all the data they collect that gets pulled into the smart control system that then calculates how much water to apply to different areas of the golf course. These are $5,000 weather stations that are monitored and calibrated regularly to keep golf courses perfect.  This is laboratory grade equipment designed for perfection and is overkill for all residential and commercial property we typically service.

Rainbird's WeatherStation is a fraction of that cost and does basically the same thing, using your zip codes historical data, daily temperature readings and effective rainfall (minus the wind and solar coeffients) to calculate ETo.  When the soil reaches MAD ( max allowable depletion that we program aka trigger point ), the controller initiates watering and calculates runtimes and cycle soaks automatically. When there are no restrictions, this controller will water at the correct time and place on random days (good for drip in Austin )

Rainbird has all kinds of videos showing how to use and program this controller.

uses a rainsensor (WET/DRY), Solar Coefficient, temperature and historical data based on regional geographic US watering zones ( 1,2,3,4) to adjust SEASONAL WATERING PERCENTAGES.

The soil moisture sensors pretty much throw all this calculations out the window and just measures the soil moisture in one spot and provides an INTERRUPT ( WET/DRY) signal to allow or disallow watering.   Location of the sensor and calibration is paramount to effectiveness.

Using the Solar Sync and the Soil-Click Moisture sensor IN CONJUNCTION,  we can construct a CYCLE SOAK routine using multiple start times with each start applying 1/4" of water, up to 4 starts a day and allowing the Soil moisture sensor to INTERRRUPT any of the starts once the soil reaches our target set pointpoint.

This is similar to how you fill up your gas tank, you can not overfill, due to the pressure switch in the pump handle. It doesn't matter if your gas tank is on E, 1/4,1/2, or 3/4. A multistart cycle routine will run mulitiple times until it reaches "F" just like a gas pump.

In closing, none of these "SMART" controllers are going to fix the basics of poor irrigation design, bad hydrozoning ( Turf and shrubs on same zone) , poorly matched zones ( sun/shade mixed) and poor maintenance ( heads too low. raise to grade, clogged nozzles )

For LEGACY Systems, we still need to focus primarily on the TOP 3 issues as seen daily in the field

1. OVER-PRESSURE ( Installing PRVs or PRS heads)
2. DISTRIBUTION UNIFORMITY( MP rotators upgrades to replace fixed spray nozzles )
3. EFFICIENCY in BEDS ( Drip conversions )

Once we fix the top 3 items, then we can have  real conversations with our clients about smart control.

On brand new systems that we design,  straight out of the box, these TOP 3 issues are not present, so we can install and be confident that smart control will work properly and effectively.

Thanks for your time.

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