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AE485 Interactive Urban Irrigation Tool for Florida1K.W. Migliaccio, N.A. Dobbs, W.R. Lusher, J. Fan, M.D. Dukes, K.T. Morgan, and B. Ferraro2 1. This document is AE485, one of a series of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date March 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu 2. K.W. Migliaccio, associate professor, and N.A. Dobbs, graduate student, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Tropical Research and Education Center, Homestead, FL; W.R. Lusher, FAWN director, J. Fan, IT expert; B. Ferraro, web designer, Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), Gainesville, FL; M.D. Dukes, professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; and K.T. Morgan, associate professor, Soil and Water Science Department, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim DeanIntroductionA team from UF/IFAS has developed a new interactive irrigation tool for homeowners, irrigation professionals, and others for investigating dierent irrigation schemes using site-specic irrigation system specications and realtime data from the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) stations located around the state of Florida. is interactive tool as well as other FAWN data and tools is organized and available on the FAWN website (http:// fawn.ifas.u.edu). e new tool is located under Interactive Urban Irrigation Tool which is located in the FAWN Tools menu under the Irrigation option (http://fawn.ifas.u.edu/ tools/interactive_irrigation_tool/).Purpose of the Interactive Irrigation Toole purpose of this tool is to provide users with the ability to test dierent ways of scheduling irrigation for their lawn (or turf) without having to purchase dierent controllers and with the ability to simulate the use of lower water amounts without causing overor under-irrigation to their turf. e tool allows the user to simulate the performance of new technologies such as smart irrigation soil moisture sensor controllers (SMS) or evapotranspiration (ET) controllers in a virtual environment. Using the tool, the user can determine which system would be best for their lawn as well as implement practices that could potentially result in water conservation, a healthier lawn, and lower water bills. e interactive irrigation tool is designed for turf and not for ornamental plants such as trees or shrubs. It has limitations because of the dierences among site conditions, unaccounted for site characteristics, distances between weather stations and sites, and assumptions made by the model. e tool should only be used for comparative purposes and as a learning tool. UF/IFAS and the authors are not advocating a particular technology or providing any lawn quality guarantees associated with this tool. Students can use this tool to learn how to correctly operate irrigation scheduling systems. Property owners can assess various ways to improve their irrigation eciency by using less water and to reduce their water bills. Irrigation profes sionals can use the tool to assist their clients in determining how to best manage home and business irrigation.How the Tool Workse tool is based on a daily water balance method, which is reported to the user weekly and considers rainfall, inltra tion, runo, percolation, ET, irrigation, and soil water content. e tool combines user input, the simple water balance calculations, and real-time FAWN data to provide the information on either how much excess water the lawn received (as a combination of irrigation and rainfall) or how many days the lawn experienced water stress (i.e., too little water to support grass growth). e results of the tool are
2provided to the user via a weekly email (using Gmail), with results based on calculations from the previous week.How to Get Started Using the Toole tool can be found at the FAWN website. Select the FAWN Tools menu, then select Irrigation, and you will nd the Interactive Urban Irrigation Tool link (http://fawn.ifas. u.edu/tools/interactive_irrigation_tool/). is link will take you to the application. Once you sign in, you will be directed to the system input web page. Following are the system inputs:UnitsIn this section, you must select a unit system of either English or Metric (Figure 1). All subsequent values should be submitted using the unit system selected.Soil CharacteristicsIn this section (Figure 2), you submit rooting depth, soil type, and irrigated area. Rooting depth refers to the depth of the roots of the lawn turf. e rooting depth can be estimated by digging small areas of turf and observing roots, or the default value can be used. For soil type, one of the following options must be selected from a dropdown menu: sand, sandy loam, loam, silty loam, clay loam, or clay. For soil texture information in your area, call your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) oce or visit the USDA soil survey website (http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda. gov ). e default soil type is sand. Since all soil types may not t into the categories provided, the soil type that is most similar in terms of water-holding ability should be selected. Also, you must input the irrigated area, which is the size of area receiving irrigation.Irrigation Technology UsedIrrigation system information is submitted here (Figure 3). e choices are Time-Based Scheduler, Time-Based plus Rain Sensor, Time-Based plus Soil Moisture Sensor, or ET Controller. Time-Based Scheduler refers to a controller that is set to irrigate on certain days at certain times. Time-Based plus Rain Sensor (Figure 4) refers to a TimeBased Scheduler with a rain sensor to bypass irrigation if the rain sensor signals that rain has occurred. If this option is selected, a rain sensor setting must be submitted in inches or the default value can be used. Figure 5 shows an example of a rain sensor. Figure 1. Screenshot of Units input section. Figure 2. Screenshot of Soil Characteristics input section. Figure 3. Screenshot of Irrigation Technology Used input section. Figure 4. Screenshot of Irrigation Technology Used input section showing selection of Time-Based plus Rain Sensor option and default sensor setting. Figure 5. Example of rain sensor. Credits: Nicole A. Dobbs, UF/IFAS
3Time-Based plus Soil Moisture Sensor (SMS, Figure 6) indicates that a Time-Based Controller is being used with a SMS. e SMS acts as a switch and bypasses irrigation if the soil moisture is over a set threshold. e threshold is a percentage of the amount of water the soil can hold, and the default setting is 0.7 (which corresponds to soil that is at 70% of its water-holding capacity) but can be adjusted by the user. Figure 7 shows an example of this type of controller. If ET Controller is selected (Figure 8), the irrigation will be determined based on ET estimated using FAWN data and crop coecients for Florida. ET is an estimate of water use by plants and evaporation. Crop coecients are values that adjust the ET calculated using weather information to estimate water use by grass. Figure 9 shows an example of an ET controller. More information on these technologies is available in the following EDIS documents:en Residential Irrigation System Rainfall Shuto Devices (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae221)en How Do Soil Moisture Sensor (SMS) Irrigation Controllers Work? (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae437)en Smart Irrigation Controllers: What Makes an Irrigation Controller Smart? (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae442)en Smart Irrigation Controllers: Operation of Evapotranspiration-Based Controllers (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae446) Videos of these technologies are available on Dr. Michael Dukes website at http://abe.u.edu/mdukes/videopresentations.shtml .Irrigation Schedulee Irrigation Schedule section (Figure 10) begins with entering a ZIP code. is is used to determine which FAWN weather station will be used in the water balance calculations. Once you enter your ZIP code, you can specify irrigation days (i.e., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, ursday, Friday, and Saturday) by checking the boxes. While the tool is for all of Florida, water-use restriction information has been integrated into the tool only for Miami-Dade County at this time. If a Miami-Dade County ZIP code is entered, then a house number (e.g., for the address 22001 West St., the house number would be 22001) must be submitted also because Miami-Dade County is restricted to watering two days per week depending on the house number. Even-numbered addresses irrigate on Sunday and ursday, while odd-numbered addresses Figure 6. Screenshot of Irrigation Technology Used showing selection of Time-Based plus Soil Moisture Sensor and default soil moisture value. Figure 7. Example of a time-based controller with a soil moisture sensor. Credits: S. Michael Gutirrez, UF/IFAS Figure 8. Screenshot of Irrigation Technology Used showing selection of ET Controller. Figure 9. Example of an ET Controller. Credits: Nicole Dobbs, UF/IFAS
4irrigate on Wednesday and Saturday. Other locations in Florida may have restrictions that should be considered when describing the irrigation schedule; however, they are not currently integrated into this tool.Irrigation Amount Applied Per EventIf a technology other than the ET Controller is selected in the Irrigation Technology Used section, then an Irrigation Amount Applied Per Event must be submitted. is is accomplished in one of two ways. You can input an Ir rigation Depth/Amount (Figure 11) or select an Irrigation System Type and input the length of time the system runs per irrigation event (Figure 12). e options for Irrigation System Type are Micro Irrigation Head (delivering 0.25 in/hr), Fixed Irrigation Head (delivering 1.5 in/hr), Gear Driven Irrigation Head (delivering 0.5 in/hr), and Impact Irrigation Head (delivering 0.5 in/hr).SubscriptionIf you subscribe, you will receive the resulting irrigation schedules calculated by the tool in a weekly email. In this section, you will need to accept the subscription to receive the weekly email. Users can cancel delivery of the email at any time.Weekly ReportsEach week, the tool evaluates water usage of the users lawn based on the submitted information and FAWN data from the previous week, and sends the evaluation to the user via Gmail (Figure 13). If the lawn receives too much water, this is reported in terms of gallons of water and the percentage of overwatering that occurred. If too little water was received, then the number of days the lawn did not receive enough water is displayed. e email includes web links to relevant EDIS documents and UF/IFAS programs, and the user also receives a water eciency score on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being excellent and 5 being poor.LimitationsA major limitation of this tool is that rainfall can be highly variable in space and the FAWN stations can be located some distance from the users location. With this in mind, the email displays the distance between the users ZIP code and the FAWN station. ere are plans to investigate Figure 10. Screenshot of Irrigation Schedule showing ZIP code and Irrigation Days input. Figure 11. Screenshot of Irrigation Amount Applied Per Event input section showing the default Irrigation Amount. Figure 12. Partial screenshot of Irrigation Amount Applied Per Event input section showing selection of Micro Irrigation Head and the runtime of 30 Minutes. Figure 13. Screenshot of weekly email report.
5alternate sources of rainfall data that could be integrated into the calculations. Another limitation is that the tool does not address trees, shrubs, annuals, or other ornamental plants.Further Questionsis tool was developed through a collaborative eort between FAWN and UF/IFAS faculty. To help ensure questions are answered in a timely manner, please send questions or comments to Dr. Kati Migliaccio at klwhite@ u.edu You can also contact your county Extension service oce for questions related to irrigation and plant health.ReferencesDukes, M.D., M. Shedd, and B. Cardenas-Lailhacar. 2012 reviewed. Smart Irrigation Controllers: How Do Soil Moisture Sensor (SMS) Irrigation Controllers Work? AE437. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae437. Dukes, M.D. 2012 reviewed. Smart Irrigation Controllers: What Makes an Irrigation Controller Smart? AE442. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae442. Dukes, M.D., and D.Z. Haman. 2010 revised. Residential Irrigation System Rainfall Shuto Devices ABE325. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.u.edu/ae221. Dukes, M.D., M.L. Shedd, and S.L. Davis. 2012 reviewed. Smart Irrigation Controllers: Operation of Evapotranspiration-Based Controllers. AE446. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http:// edis.ifas.u.edu/ae446.