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Sensor-Based Control of Irrigation in Bermudagrass

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  052180,  2005 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.18952) @2005
Authors:   Bernard Cardenas-Lailhacar, Michael D. Dukes, Grady L. Miller
Keywords:   Soil moisture sensor, rain sensor, automation, irrigation scheduling, residential irrigation, water use, turfgrass, bermudagrass, turf quality, landscape

Irrigation water use represents a substantial opportunity for residential water savings. Automation of irrigation systems, based on soil moisture sensors (SMSs), has the potential to provide maximum water use efficiency by maintaining soil moisture at optimum levels. The objectives of this experiment were to quantify differences in irrigation water use and turf quality between: 1) a SMS-based irrigation system compared to a completely time-based scheduling, 2) different commercial irrigation SMSs, and 3) a completely time-based scheduling system with or without a rain sensor. The experimental area consists of common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.), located in Gainesville, Florida. Four quarter-circle pop-up sprinklers, in a square with 3.66 m sides, irrigated each of 64 plots, distributed in a completely randomized design. Treatments consisted of irrigating one, two, or seven days a week. Each of these schedules compared four different commercial SMSs brands. These SMSs may interrupt scheduled irrigation cycles, depending on the soil moisture status. Other treatments compared plots with or without a rain sensor. A non-irrigated treatment was also implemented. No significant differences in turfgrass quality among treatments were detected, which was evidenced by good quality in non-irrigated plots. Treatment without-rain-sensor used 45% more water than the with-rain-sensor treatment. Not all SMSs tested performed the same. Sensors from brand A recorded irrigation water savings ranging from 59% to 88%, brand B from 73% to 82%, and brand D from 46% to 81%, depending on the scheduled irrigation frequency. Brand C showed water savings only within a 1-day/week frequency.

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