Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not so smart?

Those Aggies are spoiling all the fun for water efficiency companies that promote "smart irrigation."

Texas AgriLife Extension researchers tested the controllers that are supposed to give your landscape just what it needs and found them lacking.

"The six devices tested, all currently on the market, applied from about one-third to two-and-a-half times more water that was recommended, said Charles Swanson, AtriLife Extension associate.

Some smart controllers use weather information to adjust the amount of water applied, but some of the manufacturers are tapping into weather info from local airports or weather stations to calculate evaporation and transpiriation (kind of the rate of plant sweating). But calculations based on that info tends to be inaccurate, the Aggies said.

Other controllers that have their own sensors were more accurate and saved water compared to most manual applications. Some cities like Frisco down by Dallas require smart controllers so the Aggies raised the red flag to point out they need to be tested for Texas conditions and to recommend which kinds are best.

"Two of the manufacturers have contacted us on what they can do to make their controller better, Swanson said. "The others - we're still waiting on a response."

These are not the same controllers the city of Amarillo is recommending for its "Every Drop Counts" program. The city is promoting sensors that only measure if it rains or air temperatures are at or below freezing to shut off irrigation systems.

Check out the full report.

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