Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Full Slate for Summer 2018

Summer is always an exciting time for ag and bio engineering in general
and water-use work in particular. The next two months include both the
ASABE Annual International Meeting. July also ushers in
Smart Irrigation Month, a national effort to educate everyone about how
to water smartly just as outdoor water-use ramps up across the country.
Expect coverage of all of the above here on irriGator.

Tampa Bay Water HQ in April

Our first summer entry is a brief report back from the recent Landscape Irrigation Water Conservation Technologies Training which took place in
Clearwater, FL. This event was a joint effort by Tampa Bay Water,
Florida Irrigation Society (FIS) and UF/IFAS - bringing together regional
practitioners, a variety of vendors showcasing their latest devices, and
IFAS researchers training on best practices. This is a rare treat in
Florida in the spring, so much so that I made the trek from South Florida
to attend.

“Why go all that way?” you may ask. Well, Dr. Michael Dukes had promised an expansive agenda that would not only include water-saving devices like weather-based controllers and soil moisture sensors, but also pressure regulating sprinkler spray bodies (now a EPA WaterSense certified product). And that’s exactly what the training delivered. We covered water-saving technology best practices, why rain sensors are not the best choice for preventing unnecessary irrigation, and the work that went into testing how and why pressure regulating spray heads save water. Further, this year’s training featured a new lab portion requiring attendees to engage with a vendor to learn some basics about a specific technology, making for a lively vendor area with great exchanges about attendees.

Training lab session underway
The combination of Tampa Bay Water and Florida Irrigation Society (offering CEUs) helped attract a broad spectrum of practitioners to the training. I took every opportunity to speak to attendees to learn what area of the green industry they worked in and what they were interested in learning about. I spoke landscape architects, irrigation technicians, and a residential system contractor. Some attended to learn more about a specific technology (soil moisture sensors), others learned the most during the vendor lab session, and the residential contractor had plenty to share about the limitations of adopting new technology with homeowners when/where there are no incentives (rebates, etc.).

There will not be a more worthwhile irrigation-focused event until fall when
FIS and the Irrigation Association have trainings and certification exams. I
certainly journeyed back to South Florida eager to build on what I learned in
the auditing work that I do. Smart Irrigation Month is just a few weeks away.
Look for more information on water-saving technology and irrigation best
practices on here on irriGator.

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