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Irrigation Using ET Controllers: A Summary of Research Performed by the University of Florida

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

Citation:  5th National Decennial Irrigation Conference Proceedings, 5-8 December 2010, Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona USA  IRR10-9573.(doi:10.13031/2013.35890)
Authors:   Stacia L , Michael D Dukes
Keywords:   Soil Water Balance, SWAT, Theoretical Irrigation Requirement, Turfgrass

It is essential to determine better methods to manage residential irrigation so that landscapes receive water based on plant needs while eliminating excess water loss due to over-irrigation. One method being explored is the evapotranspiration (ET) controller that manages landscape water needs by maintaining a theoretical soil moisture balance where water loss occurs through ET and irrigation is supplemental to rainfall. Various studies have been performed in Florida to determine ET controller functionality and if their implementation can produce water savings. Results include findings from a field study, multiple bench tests, and a cooperator study where ET controllers were implemented in a residential environment. Conclusions show that ET controllers have the potential to produce water savings without sacrificing landscape quality. However, some real world scenarios allow for declines in landscape quality (e.g. drought) whereas ET controllers will maintain well-watered conditions, irrigating more than required to maintain the level of landscape quality acceptable to the homeowner. Consequently, potential water savings can only be achieved if prior irrigation habits include over-irrigation.

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