In an effort to conserve water, manufacturers have been making smart irrigation for landscapes. These sprinkler systems sense the water in the ground and apply just the right amount of moisture to lawns. Now Charles Swanson of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services is testing those irrigation systems to see if they are as accurate as they say.
Originally, Swanson and Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station, set up the lab in 2008, to test “smart” weather-based irrigation controllers, Swanson said. Recently, the lab completed all the requirements needed to be certified by the International Code Council to test landscape irrigation products, he said. The certification is required by the Environmental Protection Agency for labs conducting WaterSense product testing for manufacturers. This includes irrigation controllers, soil moisture sensors and sprinklers.
“WaterSense is a partnership with EPA to protect the future of our nation’s water supply,” according to Swanson. “They do this by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, including new home designs and services,” Swanson said.
“People may have heard or seen WaterSense-labeled products in the market already,” Swanson said. “Many household water fixtures like low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads are WaterSense labeled. Now WaterSense is starting to focus its attention on landscape irrigation by identifying products that can save consumers water.”
Swanson reports that WaterSense labels may only be applied to products that have proven at least 20 percent more efficient that traditional products. Currently they are testing 25 sprinklers from five manufacturers.
“We know these products have great water conservation potential,” Fipps said. “Field analysis at a commercial site in 2013 showed that converting to pressure-regulated sprinklers increased the application uniformity by 27 percent and decreased water use by 23 percent.”