Celebrate Smart Irrigation Month this July
With droughts and climate change on the horizon, it is hard to keep your landscaping green in a way that you feel is responsible. Smart irrigation systems make it a lot easier, but not everyone is aware that smart technology has made ripples in the irrigation world. Enter Smart Irrigation Month, a month dedicated to spreading the word about smart irrigation options and appreciating their benefits. There are environmental benefits but also social and economic benefits you can reap from using smart irrigation.
The Irrigation Association officially dubbed July as Smart Irrigation Month. As irrigation fanatics, we’re here to pick up the torch and help you learn more about smart irrigation and celebrate the holiday.
The History of Irrigation
Human civilizations started alongside rivers, from the Yellow River to the Nile River and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, for a reason. They provided ample water and flood plains that early humans could use for agriculture. Irrigation was one of the earliest inventions, and it actually served two purposes. The first was to protect humans from flooding, and the second was to divert that water for use in agriculture instead. Irrigation has always been about confronting the possibility of natural disaster and using our ingenuity to make our lives more stable in the face of it.
From the dawn of civilization, irrigation practices improved. The most important developments in irrigation include Roman aqueducts, which brought water reliably from far distances, drip irrigation which significantly improved efficiency, and smart irrigation, which can independently adjust to provide your plants with just the right amount of water–cutting down on water waste.
The Risks of Drought and Climate Change
While our original irrigation challenges were about floods and crops, the irrigation challenges that you face are likely about green lawns and lush landscaping. Of course, living in California, you have your mind on handling drought and minimizing your personal contribution to climate change as well. How can a green lawn fit in with your environmental consciousness?
Well, the answer is not to just rip up your grass (unless you’re going to replace it with other plants, but they’ll require irrigation too.)The bare ground can’t absorb much water, and it thus contributes to stormwater problems. It also loses moisture quickly as there is nothing to shade it from the sun. Instead, having climate-appropriate plants and managing them with the proper amount of water is the best solution to managing water on your property.
The problems start when people use too much water for their plants. On many lawns, up to half of the water that is applied ends up draining away or evaporating in the heat instead of getting down into the soil where plants can access it. This is a tremendous waste of water, especially in high-heat climates or during droughts.
How Smart Irrigation Helps
The most common misconception about smart irrigation is that it is simply automatic irrigation. Yes, smart irrigation will follow a schedule like automatic irrigation. But it has additional features that make it smarter and more independent so that you don’t have to micromanage the system to save the most water you can. Here are some of the potential features–although the specifics will depend on the system that you invest in:
- Smart schedule adjustments: Smart irrigation systems have one, or more, ways to estimate when your landscaping needs more or less water than normal. Some operate based on weather data and will turn off when it is raining. Others are more precise and use technology to directly measure the moisture in soil and apply exactly what is needed.
- Monitor water flow: Smart irrigation systems may also be capable of monitoring how much water you are using and generating reports. This can help you make more water-wise decisions, including which plants to choose and where to place them.
- Shut down for high flow: Water leaks in irrigation systems are one of the largest wastes of water. Many smart systems have the ability to sense if there is unusually high water flow, which could be a sign of a leak. They will shut down the water flow and alert you to the potential problem.
- App control: Whether through an app on your phone or on your desktop, most smart irrigation systems give you the ability to remotely control them, look at reports and alerts, adjust the system’s schedule and turn it off in the event of a problem. Forgot to turn off the sprinklers to let the pool maintenance team in the yard? You can adjust it right away.
Research from the Irrigation Association has found that smart irrigation controllers save 20% more water than non-smart irrigation controllers.
How to Observe Smart Irrigation Month
The irrigation industry has focused on developing smarter technologies that can save water and help us meet our environmental goals while also lowering our water bills. Other than just installing smart irrigation in your yard, how can you observe smart irrigation month?
- Advocate for smart irrigation: Your lawn isn’t the only one you might have power over. Any workplace, community property, church, or other organization you’re involved with could benefit from smart irrigation.
- Get your system inspected: Make sure that your system is running as efficiently as possible by scheduling an inspection from the professionals.
- Ask for professional advice: Are there other ways you could be saving water in your landscape? Ask your irrigation professionals for other tips.
- Consider other water-saving practices: You can save water in your home as well as outside of it. Scroll down to our resource sections for some more information.
- Post on social media: Spread the word about Smart Irrigation Month on social media and try to get #smartirrigationmonth trending every July.
- Wear blue: Blue is the official color of the holiday, and the Irrigation Association encourages everyone to wear it to signal support.
Tips for Irrigation Professionals
What about irrigation professionals? How can you observe Smart Irrigation month?
- Refresh your knowledge and skills surrounding smart irrigation.
- Share information about Smart Irrigation Month on social media.
- Start a policy on how and when to inform customers about smart irrigation.
- Implement smarter water-saving practices on your own landscaping.
- Include information about smart irrigation on your website and in your marketing.
The Irrigation Association has a Smart Irrigation Month logo that you can add to your internal and external company publications.
The History of Smart Irrigation Month
The Irrigation Association started Smart Irrigation Month as far back as 2019. Since then, this seemingly tiny celebration has been observed by a wide variety of professionals and even organizations from other industries, including farmers, conservationists, agricultural expos, municipalities, and more.
Everyone cares about water. Join us in celebration!
Resources for Watering and Water-Saving
Here are some more resources for topics related to smart irrigation:
- Drip irrigation from the UC Master Gardener Program
- Xeriscaping Guide
- California Native Plant Society
- California Water Conservation
- Drought information