Smart Irrigation Trends

Rain Bird

TREND: Smart irrigation control

New technology is allowing irrigation to become smarter by taking both environmental factors and plant or turf needs into consideration. We know what watering requirements a particular plant has, for example, and now we’re able to install controllers with sensors and smarter programming to better understand the plant’s location, topography and climate.

TREND: Pressure regulation

Advanced features and designs in emission devices are also combating waste. High water pressure contributes greatly to water waste, using millions of extra gallons a year and creating very thin, misty spray patterns that drift off course rather than landing where they should — on the plants or turf. When that happens, homeowners tend to simply increase system run times, which can lead to exponentially higher water use. Using what we call “PRS” or “Pressure Regulating Stems” in Rain Bird rotors and sprays, we can control water pressure at each head to insure optimal head pressure and performance throughout a system.

TREND: Improved nozzle technology

Nozzle technologies have also improved. For example, Rain Bird’s HE-VAN (High Efficiency Variable Arc Nozzle) and RVAN (Rotary Variable Arc Nozzle) nozzles use thicker streams of water and lower trajectories to fight wind drift and improve the amount of water landing in the intended target area (a concept referred to as “DU” or “distribution uniformity.”) Contractors who install these components in new systems — and as an easy upgrade to existing systems — can help their customers save an amazing amount of water.

TREND: Wider acceptance of drip irrigation

During the past 20 years, the popularity of drip irrigation has increased exponentially, and for good reason. Today, most contractors share the basic understanding that, when properly used, landscape low-volume, drip irrigation products can save significant amounts of water. These products can also help keep water off walls, windows, sidewalks and streets. At the same time, the use of these products promotes healthier plant growth because water is delivered more slowly and at lower pressures at or near plant root zones. Water loss due to evapotranspiration is virtually eliminated. And, while drip irrigation was previously intended primarily for plants and shrubs, products like Rain Bird’s XFS Subsurface Dripline are now making it possible to even irrigate areas of turf grass with this highly efficient technology.

TREND: Efficient irrigation without the guesswork

Smart controllers can be programmed one time and can adjust automatically with weather conditions throughout the year, preventing multiple timely trips back for seasonal adjustment. Emission devices (rotors, sprays, and dripline) can be purchased pre-calibrated for pressure, and nozzles are a simply plug-and-play device which allows for immediate water efficiency in most cases.

In evidence of this trend, municipalities and water agencies throughout the United States are offering rebates on these types of water-efficient irrigation components. These rebates not only make it more affordable for homeowners and contractors to install these devices at little to no cost, but they also increase overall consumer awareness of the need to use less water.

TREND: Making an entire system as efficient as possible

On average, the right combination of irrigation technology can help sites use approximately 30 percent less water. It depends a great deal on the type of technology a site chooses to adopt — smart controllers, rain sensors, pressure-regulating rotors and sprays, drip irrigation, high-efficiency nozzles or a combination therein. The little improvements you make can go a long way when it comes to irrigation. However, efficiency depend on more than just system components. Not seasonally adjusting a controller on time, watering while it is raining, having high water pressure, watering during windy conditions, and applying water too fast, can all result in thousands of wasted gallons on a single residential or commercial property. The new technology can optimize performance and monitor all weather conditions, soil types, slopes, and specific plant types.

TREND: Showing customers the ROI

At Rain Bird, we help contractors and their customers understand the return on investment (ROI) of smarter irrigation by sharing the real-world data that we’ve gathered through research and special initiatives. We also offer several water saving calculators online at The calculators ask some very general questions about a client’s site, then quickly calculate ROI and are fundamental in driving customers into more efficient products. For our commercial customers, we offer site reports on our website that detail how some of our actual commercial clients have integrated irrigation technology that’s saving them both water and money. In that way, we hope that other commercial sites can read those site reports and realize that they too could easily implement that type of water-saving technology.

Article provided by Rain Bird.

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