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Smart Water Application Technology (SWAT™) Evaluation in Florida

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

Citation:  2007 ASAE Annual Meeting  072250.(doi:10.13031/2013.23039)
Authors:   Michael D Dukes, Bernard Cardenas-Lailhacar, Stacia Davis, Melissa B Haley, Mary Shedd
Keywords:   SWAT, smart water application technology, irrigation controllers, evapotranspiration, soil moisture sensor, rain sensor, irrigation water conservation

Water used for turfgrass/landscape irrigation represents a significant portion of the total water used in Florida. This area of water use is increasing with population growth, which is projected to rise from 17 million to 20 million by 2015. If current water use trends continue, many areas will experience severe water shortages. Smart Water Application Technology (SWAT™) consists of irrigation controllers that establish or modify irrigation scheduling based on soil/weather variables. This paper summarizes the research carried out in Florida, regarding the use of ET controllers, soil moisture sensor controllers and rain sensors on turfgrass/landscape irrigation; and evaluates their effectiveness for irrigation water conservation. Testing locations range from plot scale on turfgrass and landscape material to cooperating home sites. Results have shown that controllers can cut irrigation as much as 90% during rainy periods and 41% during dry periods while maintaining turfgrass quality. Preliminary results in the residential arena show that soil moisture sensors and rain sensors could also save a significant amount of irrigation water when implemented (up to 50%). None of the SWAT™ controllers tested have shown a reduction in turfgrass/landscape quality when correctly set/implemented.

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