Monday, April 28, 2014

South Florida Landscape Irrigation Symposium 2014

This week UF/IFAS experts, local water authority reps and area municipal workers and property managers are gathering in Miami-Dade for the first South Florida Landscaping Irrigation Symposium of 2014.

Conservation cornucopia
Presentations will cover topics ranging from urban landscape irrigation basics, smart irrigation technology, effective use of Florida-Friendly landscaping, a panel showcasing managers whom have successfully integrated water-use efficient practices on their properties, and seven of your favorite brand and distribution representatives with their latest wares on display. 

SFLIS 2013: When we say vendor displays we mean it
In short, a little something for everyone working or managing landscape irrigation and then CEUs for all those attending until completion.

Picking up what we're putting down?
Perhaps most notable in the symposium program is the prevalence of smart irrigation

Dr. Michael Dukes presents before Florida Irrigation Society members
None other than UF/IFAS heavyweights Dr. Michael Dukes and Dr. Kati Migliaccio will both expound on the topic this week – the former about the ever important return on investment when installing this technology, the latter exploring the nuts and bolts of how it works and why it is the here, now and future of landscape irrigation.

Work mode: Dr. Kati Migliaccio
“The future?” you say. Well, Dr. Migliaccio is part of a team that has developed a smart irrigation app for turf that generates scheduling recommendations for use with any kind of irrigation system comparable to that of weather-based irrigation controllers on the market today. So, yes, the future.

Front row seat
As for me, I'm most interested in the opening talk from Miami-Dade Water and Sewer’s own Bertha Goldenberg. Miami-Dade is currently undergoing a multi-billion dollar Capital Improvement Plan that will overhaul much of its decrepit water infrastructure. 

Can't attend? Enjoy the teaser trailer!

This project has contributed to a steady increase in the cost of water by 37% over the past twelve years. Further, in Florida, Miami-Dade is recognized as a county with minimal reclaimed water infrastructure and use, a status that is certain to change. I expect Mrs. Goldenberg’s presentation will touch on these topics and more.

Media-mode: overdrive
As Miami-Dade is the venue for this symposium, you already know the Urban Conservation Unit will be in attendance! 

Flagging breaks all day: U.C.U. tech Jesus Lomeli
And when all of us are present in one place chances are good that cameras will roll. Watch for live-tweets (#SFLIS) and a short report-back video later in May.

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: Gainesville Sun)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lawn and Irrigation Myths…Busted!


Myth:  Turfgrass has no beneficial attributes in the landscape.
Facts:  Turfgrass moderates temperature, prevents soil erosion from wind and water, and provides recreational areas for outdoor activities.   

Myth Busted

Myth:  Water sensors on irrigation systems do not save water. These are mandated by Florida statute.
Facts:  Rain sensors save 10 to 15 percent water use during dry seasons and 20 to 35 percent during rainy conditions. 

Myth Busted

Myth:  Water restrictions by utilities prevent over irrigation.
Facts:  Although day-of-the-week water restrictions can reduce overall demand, overwatering on a given irrigation day continues.  People who have had inappropriate runtime habits or inefficient irrigation systems still have those problems.   

Myth Busted

Irrigation Myth Busters is the title of just one of the many UF/IFAS on-line training courses that can be accessed for free at here. Dr. Michael Dukes, Professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Interim Director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, developed this course based on his extensive irrigation research program.  

The Suwannee River Water Management District initiated new year-round irrigation plan throughout the 15-county region.  During Eastern Standard Time, outdoor irrigation can occur once per week.   
  • Residences with odd or no address numbers are assigned Saturday watering. 
  • Even number addresses may irrigate on Sunday.   
  • All non-residential properties including median strips, motels, businesses and public properties are allowed to irrigate on Tuesday.  Restrictions apply to water from utilities, private wells and surface water.
About 30 percent of all Florida public water use occurs between April and June.  Residential water use is responsible for well over half of the public water use. If each homeowner began to consciously improve irrigation scheduling during these heavy use months, what a difference we could make in water savings!!

As mentioned before, if overwatering is already a regular routine, watering restrictions won’t correct that habit. A conscious effort must be made to understand plant water needs, break habits, and adopt new practices. Visit Your Florida Lawn to find specific information on your grass species, watering tips, and other research-based information to improve the health of your lawn and Florida’s environment.

A few things to consider doing right away include installing micro irrigation in flower beds.  Hand watering and micro irrigation systems are not included in one-day restrictions.  No special tools are needed, systems are easily moved around as your plants are changed out, and every drop goes right to the root zone. 

If you have an automatic irrigation system, try turning it off and using manual control.  If the soil is still moist on your watering day from a recent rain, don’t water again.  It doesn’t help the plants any, but it does deplete our water supply.  You can still enjoy the cooling effects of the lawn and the backyard where the kids can run and play.  Learn how to water and fertilize for the health of the plants and our other natural resources.   

For more information contact
Nichelle Demorest, Horticulture Agent II