Whether you’ve been a landscape professional for one year, ten or twenty, advancements in technology mean we’re all continuously learning to be smart irrigators. But that doesn’t happen automatically. Here are three different ways to be intentional when it comes to smart irrigation.
Pay Attention to Uniformity and Efficiency
In irrigation, the uniformity of water applications is critical. This has a lot to do with the engineering of the sprinkler and nozzle, as well as its ability to apply water in a uniform pattern.
Just as important is the design and installation of an irrigation system so that sprinklers can perform as the engineer intended. As landscape professionals know, it is nearly impossible to overcome the lack of uniformity caused by a bad irrigation design, so it is important to pay attention to the watering pattern from the beginning of the project to prevent dead patches from appearing in your turf.
The term efficiency means that water is applied in the proper amount and without waste. This has a lot to do with how irrigation systems are adjusted and maintained. Simple things like raising and leveling sprinklers, arc adjustment and changing worn nozzles contribute to better efficiency.
Build for Technology Advancements and Adaptability
The rapid advances in irrigation technology over the past 30 to 40 years has made it easier to determine when, where and how much water to apply to plants. Improvements in sprinkler and nozzle design, soil moisture sensors, hand-held moisture meters, drip irrigation, subsurface irrigation technology and weather-based smart irrigation controllers are all wonderful tools to help us be smart irrigators, but they must be used with knowledge of the soil, plants and environment in which they are used.
Trees, turf and landscapes are also constantly changing. Is your irrigation system smart enough to change with them? The irrigation requirement of a newly installed turf or landscape area will be far different in the same area 10 or 15 years later.
Questions to keep in mind as you consider the adaptability of an irrigation design:
- Can sprinklers be easily raised and adjusted as the turf and landscape matures?
- Can new technology be retrofitted into an existing system without having to replace the whole system?
- Can new technology be integrated into an existing system to improve efficiency and uniformity (weather station data, soil moisture sensor information, the ability to monitor pump operation and irrigation performance remotely)?
Think of Sustainability
The term “sustainability” gets thrown around a lot these days. Think about it in terms of “are we going to be able to do the same thing we are doing now well into the future?” If not, then it is not sustainable.
While there is no way to know the future, addressing the previous areas will go a long way to becoming more sustainable by:
- Reducing and eliminating waste
- Preserving the health and vigor of turf and landscape plants
- Keeping our businesses strong and profitable – hopefully for many years to come
Let us know in the comments below what other ideas you have for being a “smart irrigator.”