Friday, October 25, 2013

Smart irrigation in your pocket!

I recently produced a video for Miami-Dade’s Urban Conservation Unit (U.C.U.). This short piece introduces one of three recently released mobile device apps developed by our own Dr. Kati Migliaccio et al.

Out here in these streets
The U.C.U.'s Jesus Lomeli: just another day at the office 
Working with urban landscape irrigation systems in Miami-Dade at the residential, commercial and homeowner association (HOA) level allows for some insight into our area’s tendencies and practices. First, turf is everywhere.

The rolling hills of South Florida
Second, where the nearby ocean is not a factor, groundwater from a pump is the irrigation method of choice.

The exception: a well-water system with a digital on-site weather-based timer
And third, among both well and potable water systems alike, mechanical timers and indexing valves remain popular.

Hydro-indexing valve: neither smart, nor aesthetically pleasing
So when the U.C.U. gears up every morning to evaluate sprinkler systems, note ghastly design and maintenance, and spread the word about water-use efficiency, this is the context in which we operate.

Indeed: five mechanical timers water a high-rise in Key Biscayne
And generally the message boils down to recommending homeowners and/or managers upgrade to a digital system to usurp control of their irrigation run times, and where possible, install smart irrigation technology - digital control enhanced by a soil moisture sensor or on-site weather sensor.

Doing work: a wireless soil moisture sensor in action
Enter the app
The SmartIrrigation Turf app allows users to water their turf landscape as if a weather-based timer is operating their irrigation system. How? It combines irrigation system inputs like system location and zone soil and sprinkler head type with real-time local weather information to generate watering recommendations. Did I mention it’s free?

Tested and approved
I’ve been testing this app since early summer. I set up the Landscape Unit research plots (a site in Gainesville with rotors, drip line and multi-stream nozzles) as a system, and the app never fails to send me recommendations to increase/decrease run times, or warn me when rain is likely.

In fact, ryegrass was just planted there this week to add some color over winter and I’ll be relying on the app to alert me to turn off the turf establishment watering program when rain is afoot.
Practical and effective
For our ends, this smart turf app will prove invaluable as a teaching tool for clients still on the fence about going digital or smart with their irrigation systems. Almost everyone today, from children to grandparents, is well-versed with engaging media on mobile devices.

Jesus schools a tech
An app that can simplify the same technology used in smart irrigation timers and successfully communicate with users through a medium they value and understand can only help in our mission to promote outdoor water-use efficiency and water conservation.

See the video here or below, then learn more about the SmartIrrigation Turf app here

Now available for free at both the Android and iOs app stores!

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