Choose an Irrigation Audit Before You Select Water-Efficient Upgrades
You now have more tools than ever before to improve irrigation system efficiency. The tools include ET-based controllers, soil moisture sensors, flow sensors and management, and remote access to the system through a computer, and mobile internet-connected devices. Before you start replacing old products with new, more water-efficient versions, your first step to improving existing irrigation system performance should be an irrigation audit. It will help you identify system problems and give you the information you need to choose the best products to reduce water use and unintended consequences.
Water-Efficient Systems Start with Good Design
A proper irrigation system plan and design is the foundation for efficient irrigation. Critical components include:
1. Correctly sizing valves and pipes for the water pressure and site conditions
2. Components deliver the water needed in the allotted watering window
3. Proper zoning and head spacing to ensure even water distribution
If you are designing a new system, you’ll get the most benefit from water-efficient products and practices if your system follows sound irrigation system design principles. If you have an existing irrigation system, conducting an irrigation audit will help you assess the overall condition of the system and the current site conditions.
As an example, after the audit, you'll know the actual distribution uniformity throughout the system. If you are thinking about installing ET-based controllers or soil moisture sensors to help automate schedule adjustments, knowing how evenly your system delivers water is an important measurement to understand.
Why? Inefficient systems may have been programmed to run longer than what was needed to make up for areas that were not receiving enough water due to improper spacing or lack of water pressure. When you begin scheduling irrigation based on soil moisture or ET, the schedules use weather and soil moisture data to decide the how much water to apply and when, but if you don’t have even uniform water distribution, you may have plants and turf in certain areas that do not receive enough water.