2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Leah Meeks
Session Name Poster Session: Optimal Use of Integrated Water Supplies 1
Category Optimal use of integrated water supplies
Poster Number 415
Author(s) Leah Meeks,  Graduate Research Assistant
  Michael D. Dukes,  Associate Professor
  Evaluation of Accuracy and Longevity of Expanding-Disk Rain Sensors
  Typical homes in Florida have in-ground irrigation systems utilizing automated timers that have been shown to increase outdoor water use. As the drought continues and water conservation becomes more crucial, Floridians must find a way to decrease the amount of water used for irrigation without damaging their aesthetic landscaping. One way to reduce irrigation waste is the installation of rain sensors, which appear to offer water savings at a relatively low cost. Rain sensors bypass the irrigation cycle of an automatic irrigation system controller after a predetermined amount of rain has fallen. In 1991, Florida became the first state to have a rain senor statute requiring that any newly installed automatic lawn sprinkler system must also install, maintain, and operate a rain sensor device. The Florida statute was updated in 2009 to include all automatic irrigation systems regardless of installation date and stricter enforcement and penalties. The University of Florida Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department is testing rain sensors currently on the market to determine the performance and reliability of expanding-disk rain sensors. Expanding-disk rain sensors operate with hydroscopic disks inside the sensor device that swell and contract depending on climatic conditions. Rainfall and dry-out settings can be adjusted depending on the climate and soil characteristics of an area. Four brands at a variety of settings are currently being tested to investigate set point accuracy, performance among brands, accuracy over time, and size changes in hydroscopic disks. The rain sensors are located in an open area on the University of Florida campus where data loggers record when the rain sensor would interrupt the cycle of an automatic controller. Results relating to water savings, accuracy, and longevity will be reported.