Water Smart

You can buy smart phones, smart homes, and smart water.  I am suggesting you water smart; let technology help you water your lawn.  Smart technology relieves us of complicated problems.  Water is a precious resource; too many times sprinkler timers are set and forgotten.  You can save money and sustain healthy landscapes with climate controlled irrigation.
 
Fifty years ago my dad brought an IBM computer home from work and we played tic-tac-toe with a main frame computer in San Jose.  Computers have come a long way since then.  I love technology; it can do so many things faster and better than we can.  

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Deep Watering

A few weeks ago I was with Mark Crookston from Northern Water in Colorado.  He was showing me his demonstration garden.  He had recently installed a Controller Link that was managing irrigation on a plot of fescue lawn.  With his permission I checked the setup and logs.  I was blown away.  The Irrigation Amount setting was 1.8 inches.  Ok, I admit it, I am a water use efficiency nerd and get excited about weird things.  So what is the big deal about a 1.8” irrigation amount setting?  This means when the sprinklers run they put down 1.8" of water.  Think about it, that is a lot of water.  The sprinklers ran for a long time and the water soaked deep into the ground.  Some would say he is wasting water.  On the contrary, he is saving water.  He said that in the summer he could go 10 days between watering.  So how did the lawn look?  Great, that was the fun part.  He said the roots are 21" long.  It doesn't get much better than this.  He was taking watering deep and less frequently seriously and getting great results.  
 

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Roots Need Air

Now that I am back in the field I am hearing that more people are starting to get the message about air.  Roots need to breathe.  If they don't get air in the soil they will grow close to the surface to "keep there head above water."  When plants are over watered, pore space in the soil is filled with water suffocating roots.  Those pore spaces should have both air and water. 
 
As the soil dries out water evaporates.  The space once occupied by water is now filled with air.  Then, when it rains or we irrigate water comes rushing in and replaces the air.  Think of it as a natural respiration cycle; water comes in, air goes out, water evaporates, air comes in.  Think about your own breathing habits.  Slow deep breathing or rapid quick breaths? 
 
For years horticulturists have been teaching us to water deep and less frequently.  This is why.

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Water Right: Get MAD don't Replenish

Water Right: Get MAD don't Replenish

In the smart irrigation control world there are two schools of thought; 1) Replenish soil moisture on a measured evaporation schedule or 2) Managed Allowed Depletion (MAD), in other words, determine the rate of evaporation in the soil and water when the soil needs it.

Before we go any further let's remember a couple things. Water evaporates. There is experienced science that can accurately estimate how much water evaporates by measuring climate conditions. Although the sun is the biggest energy source in evaporation, water evaporates faster when its windy. and slower when the humidity is high. You have seen it; on long, hot, dry windy days plants dry out quickly. On cool, calm, cloudy days plants don't need much water.


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Quality

At Irrisoft quality is driven by three objectives:
  1. Save Money – We want to help our customers save money.
  2. Efficient Water Use – Water is a precious resource, it should be used responsibly.
  3. Healthy Landscapes – Beautiful landscapes enhance the quality of life.  To be healthy, plants must be watered right.

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Water Conservation vs. Efficient Water Use

We have a water problem. Too often sprinkler controllers are set and forgotten; not adjusted when the weather changes. A lot of water is beng wasted. When the EPA says landscapes are often watered with twice the needed water, people don't believe it. Plus they fear that cutting back on water use will hurt their landsacape. I have seen just the opposite. When landscapes are watered right they are healthier. You can have efficient water use and a healthy landscape. The secret is knowing when to water, and when not too.

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