Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I.A. Confidential

In early November I was among the many educators, students, experts, industry representatives and stakeholders attending the Irrigation Association’s (IA) annual Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Orlando, FL.

Rolling deep
The University of Florida helped kick-off the Technical Sessions in Landscape with no less than five presentations!

Gator Nation: how we dooz it!
This included Dr. Kati Migliaccio presenting in place of graduate student Nicole Dobbs...
Dr. Migliaccio presents FAWN Interactive Irrigation Tool for Florida
 ...and several presentations from my current group...
Dr. Michael Dukes
 ...about smart irrigation projects in Orange County and Pinellas County and a Florida Friendly Landscaping study.
From left: Maria Zamora, Kizzy Boyer & Dr. Migliaccio
The Show
In addition to the technical presentations I also attended the irrigation show.
Abandon bad practices all ye who enter!
This portion of the event occupied one of the Orange County Convention Center’s larger spaces, featuring hundreds of display booths from manufacturers representing every aspect of the irrigation industry.

Toro's Precision nozzle by strobe light
Decagon: not your grandpa's ECHO probe
When you absolutley positively have to tap the earth's core...
Changing the game: a 22 station ESP! 
There were also smaller discussion groups running concurrent to the larger events. One of these talks afforded me the chance to meet two of the social media and water conservation dynamos I most admire.
From left: Martha Golea & Richard Restuccia
On the beat for efficient irrigation
In addition to attending presentations and learning about the latest products, while in Orlando I had another mission. Miami-Dade’s Urban Conservation Unit (UCU) also made the trek north to attend the show and whenever we’re together chances are good that there's a video camera present and a UCU production is afoot!

From left: Jesus Lomeli and me
This was definitely the case in Orlando, where we seized the opportunity of access to a wide collection of irrigation experts in one locale and produced what is arguably our most ambitious work to date. Enjoy!

2013: ATX!

Monday, November 12, 2012

OCP: getting commerical to go smart!

Last week the commercial property portion of the Orange County Project (OCP) went online in Orlando, Florida. OCP is an Orange County-based collaborative effort between Orange County Utilities (OCU), South Florida Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, Water Research Foundation and UF/IFAS to ascertain the water-saving potential of smart irrigation technology. OCP’s residential portion is detailed in a previous entry.

Wherever I go, there you are…
I’ve spent the better part of the past three weeks living in Orlando-area hotels to one end: assist in the installation and programming of eight weather-based irrigation controllers on several commercial properties in Orange County.
These smart timers use rain and temperature data in addition to other zone-specific factors (plant-life, sprinkler-type, etc.) to calculate irrigation run times.
To everyone’s good fortune, the contractor that won the bid for this portion of the project is a first-class group I came to know well during my TREC-based research.

The workforce of nature
And just as they did then, they supplied their best technician from the area to complete this critical work.

By the book
Every effort was made to install the timer weather stations in areas free from shade and obstructions so on-site data informing irrigation can be as accurate as possible.

Wiring goes under the path
~30ft. of wire along a wall

Two on-site weather stations equipped with temperature sensor and tipping bucket rain gauge
And in one instance, submeters were installed to discount other uses of water from the irrigation main on the property.
Timers were programmed using gross precipitation rates for each irrigation zone. This involved physically measuring zone area and zone flow rate and calculating as follows:
calculating gross precipitation rate
And similarly to one of the residential property experimental treatments, all timers were programmed with no day restrictions so that they may apply water as needed.

Down the drain: smart timers are one thing, smart zone design is quite another 
OCU is tasked with gathering water-use data monthly from each of the properties and furnishing it to UF/IFAS researchers.
But wait, there’s more!

Arthropods agree: sound water management benefits everyone
Amidst all the work, I made a weekend jaunt to visit South Florida and then attend the 2012 I.A. Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Orlando! There was networking, discovery and a video shoot, all of which will be detailed in a future entry. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My surveys in Tram Chim National Park 

My research has interviews for local people to determine how fish and plants in the Park benefit them. I collaborated with an official in the Park for interviews. We rode motors to find the local people who exploited fish and plants in the Park last year. For a long time, I did not ride a motor! Now, I am not kidding, riding is amazing!!!

Our survey team, my friend working in the Park and me
 We traveled to local people's residence areas. Some people live near canals.

Local people's house floor is built higher than flood water level 
Between local people's house and the Park's levee is a canal
This time, we interviewed local people in a coffee shop (you will see coffee shop everywhere in Vietnam!!!)
Some houses are far from the Park. I am interviewing local people in a local coffee shop

Traditionally, rural people wear no shirt at home, like to sit on their house floor for talking, and invite us drinking their tea

Here is the monitoring tower for the Park's protection. I will take some landscape photos from here

I did some investigation of water gates. Next time, I will do some "swimming-in-flood water" surveys!!!

We did surveys in the morning and input data in the afternoon. How poor my Vietnamese was!!! Sometimes, I needed my friend to express my questions to the local people. For questionnaires, of courses, I have modified my questions many times to become friendlier to local people.

This time is the flood time in the Mekong River Delta. You will see some plants and fish next blogs! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tram Chim National Park - my research favor

The Tram Chim National Park (Park) is located at the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. This Park has the wetland type representative for the Delta that is influenced by an annual flood.

I am conducting surveys of how tourism benefits the Park and how the Park supports local people's livelihood via fish and plants.

I have captured some moment when arrive at the Park. Below is the coffee shop of the Environmental Education and Tourism Center in the Park (it reminds me the Starbucks coffee shop!!!)

Here are some sunset photos in a sightseeing station (They look like some corners of the Everglades???)

This is a levee of the Park. The left hand side is the buffer zone where local people do rice cultivation or aquacultural cultivation. 

 This is a small canal inside the Park. It is functioned as a water transport mean for fire protection

 And, some captures of sunset, water and plants inside the Park

Others will come up!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Water they really saving? Quantifying Florida-friendly landscape water-use!

This September I spent eight days traveling across the sleepy little bergs and bustling urban centers that constitute the South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) proper on a quest to identify and document 1600 sites for a study on the efficacy of sustainability-minded programs like Florida Yards and Neighborhoods (FYN). This study is part of a larger project about residential irrigation practices slated to begin early next year.

The question

As part of Extension efforts throughout Florida, FYN promotes sustainable practices via its Florida Friendly Landscape (FFL) certification process.
Certifiably FL-friendly!
FFL status is awarded to residential (and commercial) properties that demonstrate adherence to a series of nine principles promoting conservation and sustainability. But what happens once a property is certified Florida-friendly?
Bullet-proof plant choices
Is an FFL site truly a model of sustainable resource use (specifically outdoor water-use) when compared to other non-certified sites in its vicinity?
Let’s ride!
My mission: track down 160 FFL sites scattered throughout SWFWMD. Since sites on the certified list dated back to the early 2000s, the first step was to confirm, at least visually, if the location was still adhering to some basic FFL principles (plant choice, etc.).
In this corner: attractive & sustainable!
Once this was established, I set about identifying ten neighboring sites of similar dimensions but demonstrating an emphasis on turf quality and not on maintaining a varied array of native plants.
And in this corner: turf for days!
All sites were geographically and visually documented. Presumably, outdoor water-use records for a site valuing handsome turf should differ significantly from a location showcasing low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant life.   
All smiles for miles and miles
Country living: peahens at dawn
My travels took me on adventures throughout far-flung, tony, rural, hard-scrabble, well-to-do, and seaside neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Lutz...
Dade City let's go!
...Gulfport, Brandon, Seffner, Riverview, Lithia, Valrico, New Port Richey, Hudson, Land O' Lakes, Dade City, Zephyrhills, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole...
Home of the Tampa Bay Rays!
...Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, St. Petersburg Beach, Kenneth City, and Indian Rocks Beach.
I-275 North: Goodbye, St. Petersburg!
Next stop: Orlando!
Results for this study by PhD candidate Kizzy Boyer will be presented in early November at the Irrigation Association Show and Education Conference in Orlando, FL. See you there!