UF/IFAS-developed app saves significant water and money
An app developed by scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences may save homeowners about 30 percent on water usage, which translates into lower utility bills, new research shows.
Kati Migliaccio, the lead designer of the irrigation app, led a study at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. Through their research, scientists found the app saved 42 percent to 57 percent of the water used with time-scheduled irrigation.
The finding is significant for homeowner money savings and water conservation. Urban turf irrigation accounts for 30 percent to 70 percent of residential per capita water use, according to a 2007 UF/IFAS study.
Grass is green virtually year-round in South Florida; thus, the higher savings on the Homestead plot. But Migliaccio said homeowners statewide can expect to save 30 percent on watering their lawns.
Many homeowners water their lawns based on timed irrigation systems. In other words, the system starts up on days when irrigation is allowed and runs for the set amount of time, based on the times the homeowner sets. Depending on where you live in Florida, residential irrigation may be under restrictions such that homeowners are allowed to irrigate only on particular days.
But the UF/IFAS app gives the homeowner an irrigation schedule based on data the user puts into it, describing their irrigation system and links to weather information to calculate evapotranspiration – a combination of water that evaporates from grass and soil. The app gives real-time information to users, relying on constantly updated data from the Florida Automated Weather Network and the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network.
The app might suggest to users that if there’s a rain chance above 60 percent, you might not want to irrigate. By contrast, if significant rain fell in the last 24 hours, the app might suggest skipping irrigation for a day.
“The app takes the guesswork out of irrigation,” said Migliaccio, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering. “It’s based on science.”
On top of the science, the app provides advantages – it’s free and user-friendly.
Details about the app can be found at http://smartirrigationapps.org.
The newly published study appears in the journal Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. Migliaccio and her colleagues have already set up a similar experiment with the UF/IFAS-developed app at the Gainesville campus.