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Can ET-Based Irrigation Controllers Meet Texas Landscape Needs?

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

Citation:  Paper number  131621425,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Charles L Swanson, Guy Fipps
Keywords:   Landscape Irrigation Irrigation Scheduling Smart Controllers Evapotranspiration Water Conservation

Abstract. A smart controller testing facility was established by the Irrigation Technology Center at Texas A&M University in College Station in 2008. The objectives were to (1) evaluate smart controller testing methodology and to (2) determine their performance and reliability under Texas conditions from an “end-user” point of view. The “end-user” is considered to be the landscape or irrigation professional (such as the Licensed Irrigator in Texas) installing the controller. This report summaries the performance of nine smart controllers over an eight month growing season in 2012. Controllers were programmed based on a virtual landscape that evaluated controller performance using multiple plant types (flowers, turf, groundcover, small and large shrubs), soil types (sand, loam and clay), root zone depths (3 to 20 inches) and other site specific characteristics. Controllers were divided into 2 categories, those which utilize on-site sensors to calculate or adjust ET or runtimes; and those which ET values are sent via cellular, radio or the internet. Controller performance was compared to total ETo, plant water requirement (ETc) and the weekly irrigation recommendation of the TexasET Network ( Results so far indicate some controllers may be able to meet Texas Landscape needs. Significant seasonal differences in controller performance were also found. The 2012 results show trends in controller performance compared to 2010 and 2011.

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