Thursday, May 29, 2014

In the crowd at SFLIS 2014: spring edition

For those of us in the urban landscape irrigation game, this month got off to an excellent start with the South Florida Landscape IrrigationSymposium in Miami-Dade.

The host venue: UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension Office in The Redland
A working partnership
A collaborative effort between Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County Extensions, the event packed in municipal groundskeepers and irrigation techs, roadside landscaping crews, arborists, some property managers and even a random biologist or two...

...everyone there for an update on the latest in water conservation thinking/practice from local and regional UF/IFAS experts, and CEUs from Allstate Resource Management.

Speaking of UF/IFAS experts: Dr. Michael Dukes and Dr. Kati Migliaccio in conference
What role does irrigation play in your work?
I can confidently attest to whom was there and why because I spent the better part of the event talking to attendees on camera. Many in the audience were interested in the latest irrigation equipment - on hand thanks to the sponsoring vendors.

Dr. Michael Dukes presents on smart irrigation technology ROI in Orange County 
One individual had sour experiences with soil moisture sensors and was especially keen on the smart irrigation presentations. And most others desired to learn as much as possible so as to better educate their clients about proper irrigation design and maintenance, and why it’s a sound investment.

All nozzle errthing: at the Hunter Industries display
Saving water my way
My favorite portion of the event was the “Success Story” panel.

The success panel (from left): Carlos Victoria, Terry Liddel and Donna Fries
This talk grouped together a property manager, an irrigation crew supervisor and a utility representative for a lively question and answer session that engaged the audience about not only the prevalence of water waste in most urban landscape systems, but also the possibility of turning the tide in favor of efficiency, especially in Miami-Dade, where the irrigation rebate program advances the smart irrigation and Florida-Friendly landscaping ethic with significant funding.

Dr. Kati Migliaccio talks weather-based irrigation controllers (WBICs)
Conservation never stops
If you were not able to attend the symposium, enjoy the video recap below courtesy of Miami-Dade’s Urban Conservation Unit.

The next symposium is scheduled for Broward County this fall. Stayed tuned to this blog for developing information, or follow IrriGator on twitter.

About the author: 
Michael Gutierrez is a water resources 
technician with UF/IFAS in the Ag & Bio 
Engineering Dept. He tweets, blogs and 
also shoots still and video media in South 
Florida, Gainesville and anywhere else a 
camera is handy. (image: Jesus Lomeli)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Volumetric water content and soil water potential

Volumetric water content and soil water potential (or tension/suction) are two measurements we use to determine irrigation needs.

Volumetric water content
Much research has been conducted on measuring volumetric water content by Professor Dr. Michael Dukes's group (UF/IFAS ABE) in an effort to improve irrigation scheduling. Volumetric water content is often estimated using soil moisture sensors (aka soil water sensors).

Two examples of commercially available soil moisture sensor technology.
View a soil moisture sensor video

Soil water tension
Research is also conducted using tenisometeric measurements, such as tensiometers.

Example of tensiometer for measuring soil water tension.
More on using tensiometers can be found in Dr. Kati Migliaccio's EDIS publication: Using Tensiometers for Vegetable Irrigation Scheduling in Miami-Dade County

Relating these measurements
The relationship between volumetric water content and soil water potential or tension is typically established using laboratory experiments. We recently developed a video demonstrating this laboratory process.

The laboratory experiment results are used to develop a curve that relates soil water potential to volumetric water content as is shown in the EDIS publication, Alternatives of Low Cost Soil Moisture Monitoring Devices for Vegetable Production in South Miami-Dade County developed by Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena (UF/IFAS ABE).

Register for more
If you are a UF graduate student and this topic interests you, be sure and register for the new graduate irrigation course ABE6933 that will be taught through distance education in the fall of 2014. Drs. Migliaccio (UF/IFAS ABE & TREC) and Dukes are developing the course and this will be one of several interesting topics they cover. A draft syllabus can be obtained by contacting either instructor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Southeast Climate Consortium

The Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC) is a group of individuals from different institutions with a mission to develop partnerships and solutions for managing climate risks for agricultural and natural resources.

Spring Program Review
From May 7th to 9th (2014) the group met in Tallahassee and ideas were exchanged on agriculture, water, climate, and combinations thereof. It was an exciting meeting!

One member of the group that showed some interesting research was Dr. Clyde Fraisse who is a faculty member in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department at the University of Florida.
Dr. Fraisse at the SECC meeting.

Jose Debastiani Andreis presented work from Dr. Fraisse's research group on different smartphone apps the group is developing. Get a closer look at his poster here.

Mr. Andreis with his poster at the SECC meeting.

While, Dr. Ana Wagner from Dr. Fraisse's research group presented new results on how different rainfall data compare. See Dr. Wagner's poster here.

Drs. Wagner and Migliaccio (ABE, UF) at the SECC meeting.

These projects were a collaborative effort from Drs. Fraisse, Migliaccio, Vellidis (UGA), and Morgan (SWS, UF). These programs relate directly or indirectly to irrigation. Dr. Wagner's project is related directly to irrigation as we assess different sources of rainfall data and how they could be used in developing irrigation schedules. The smartphone app projects also are related to irrigation as they help determine when to irrigate using real-time weather data.

If you are interested in learning about climate in relation to agriculture - be sure to visit AgroClimate which is an excellent source for information including forecasts, ENSO phase, risk, and crop tools.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 UF/IFAS Twilight Potato School - Irrigation

Great times were had at the recent Twilight Potato School!

Topics that were covered include sub-surface drip irrigationseepage water table management and the UF variety trial. Here are a few images from the event:

Attendees tour the facility
Dr. Lincoln Zotarelli and a TDR soil moisture probe
Experimental potato varieties (for chip and fresh market) on display
Mark Warren of Flagler County Extension and Spectrum Technology probes in use
PhD candidate Libby Rens presents 2013 data from her seepage water table level study 

More information on potato irrigation research can be found on Dr. Zotarelli's website. More visuals from Libby Rens' seepage water table study can be found here.

Thanks to Dr. Dan Cantliffe and Dr. Bonnie Wells for providing all Twilight School images and materials!