2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Stacia Davis
Session Name Poster Session: Optimal Use of Integrated Water Supplies 1
Category Optimal use of integrated water supplies
Poster Number 407
Author(s) Stacia Davis,  University of Florida
  Michael Dukes,  University of Florida
  Irrigation Using ET Controllers: A Cooperator Study In Southwest Florida
  Conservation of water resources is important for urban areas all over the country, and on average, half of municipally-supplied potable water is used for residential landscape irrigation. As a result, it is essential to determine better methods to manage residential irrigation so that landscapes receive water based on needs while eliminating excess water loss due to over-irrigation. One method currently being explored in southwest Florida is the implementation of “smart” technologies that manage landscape water needs. One such technology is an ET controller that schedules irrigation by maintaining a theoretical soil moisture balance where water loss occurs through evapotranspiration (ET) and irrigation is supplemental to rainfall. A total of thirty-six cooperators from Hillsborough County were chosen from three locations in the county. Locations were selected based on high percentages of outdoor water use and population estimated from historical trends. Twenty-one of the cooperators were selected to receive Toro Intelli-sense controllers (Riverside, CA) that utilize the WeatherTRAK ET Everywhere service (Hydropoint Datasystems, Inc., Petaluma, CA). The ET service sends daily ET estimations and rainfall information to the controllers via satellite signal. These cooperators were granted exemptions from day-of-the-week watering restrictions to allow the controllers to work as efficiently as possible. The remaining cooperators, termed the comparison group, were asked to maintain their current irrigation practices. Preliminary results showed that both groups irrigated more than its own average historical water use in all locations. These results were explained based on dry conditions with less than normal rainfall totals. Additionally, the ET controller group irrigated more than the comparison group in two of three locations. However, the ET controller group generally had higher turfgrass quality ratings than the comparison group in these locations suggesting cooperators in the comparison group were willing to sacrifice landscape quality for unknown reasons.