We had a great TBWG meeting at Riverview Flower Farm. Part of it is seeing the production methods of R.F.F. and the innovation that takes place there. The other part was our guest speaker Dr. Mike Dukes from UF. He spoke about Smart Water Application Technology(SWAT). Part of that is reducing water from a timed application of water and moving to a needs based application of water. Some of the technological advances to reducing this water is by using rain sensors, soil moisture sensors and evapotranspiration controllers. These devices will bypass an irrigation timer if the plants do not need the water (e.g. after a rain event). Dr. Dukes' had two years of research looking at homeowner lawns and these technologies have saved the homeowners from around 40-70% water savings.
One of our own local growers James Reed at Three Pines Tree Farm is using a soil moisture sensor for his irrigation and says even without the grant he received to put it in place, he will have the device paid for in about 14 months from savings on his pump usage. He will also be saving thousands of gallons of water from our aquifer and many pounds of fertilizer will not be wasted or leached into the ground. This technology is really helping James' operation tighten up costs and reduce waste thereby making him more competitive in the marketplace.
If you would like more information about SWAT Dr. Dukes has some information on his website http://www.irrigation.ifas.ufl.edu/
If you would like more information on saving water or getting a grant for your farm to utilize this technology send me an email or give me a call at the extension office.