Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Notes from Long Beach: Irrigation Show and Conference 2015

Earlier this month I attended the Irrigation Association’s Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Long Beach, CA. The UF contingent included me, Bernard Cardenas and Drs. Michael Dukes and Kati Migliaccio. We were among the several thousand experts, contractors, technicians and brand reps whom coursed through the Long Beach Convention Center over seven days.

Like the bat-signal, but for certified irrigation pros!
Nerd Alert
In addition to the usual classes and technical sessions, this year’s event featured an ASABE/IA Irrigation Symposium to showcase peer-reviewed research, and a Drought Summit to strategize around water scarcity.

Soil moisture sensor expert Bernard Cardenas during the first of two presentations
Of course, the symposium is where us researchers shine. We presented on soil moisture sensors, weather-based controller programming, sustainable landscapes and water-use efficiency and smart phone apps for irrigation scheduling and management.

A crowd forms for more info following Dr. Migliaccio's talk on irrigation apps
Roving Reporter
I was in full media mode during conference week – tweeting, periscoping and shooting video for a collaborative project with the Irrigation Foundation’s E3 Program. The E3 program sponsors students and instructors from across the country to attend the IA Conference and immerse themselves in all the industry connections and expertise the week affords one. 
I also had the honor of presenting on social media best practices alongside longtime colleague/mentor Richard Restuccia.

On the Cusp
You cannot report back about the Irrigation Show without mentioning the product expo. Every year the expo floor seems to grow larger and this year was no exception. I was on the hunt for new/interesting urban landscape irrigation products and these days that usually means cloud-based and wireless.
Cloud-based soil moisture sensors are a thing!
I managed to locate a couple of new WaterSense certified timers in this category. I also stumbled upon a soil moisture sensor touting said features. The future looks bright for remotely accessible smart irrigation!

On-site Insight
From my perspective, conferences like IA’s are invaluable as conduits for in-person contact with industry peers. For instance, while gathering content for a high-efficiency nozzle video for Miami-Dade’s Urban Conservation Unit, I learned from the EPA WaterSense team attending the conference that pressure regulating sprinkler (PRS) bodies are a more reliable means for water savings in the landscape.
In fact, WaterSense has plans to certify PRS bodies in the near future. For incentive-based programs like Miami-Dade’s this is a critical new development. And for an irrigation-head like me, well this is the kind of on-site insight that I am ALL about. See you next year in Las Vegas!