X4 landscape irrigation by AccuWaterâ„¢

Who has not had the experience of seeing landscape irrigation systems spraying in the rain? "Best practice" seems to be little more than a timer and doing it mostly at night, which saves on evaporative loss and is less stressful for plants. More poignantly, late-night watering avoids spraying the neighbors passing cars and paying customers; and, it ducks the wrath of TreeHuggers in droughty times (like now). The 'irrigation in the rain' metaphor is a good segue to some Texas entreprenuers with a solution.By using what Amory Lovins refers to as "the gift of feedback", AccuWaterâ„¢, Inc. is achieving up to 50% reduction in irrigation water consumption for its customers. And there's more for TreeHuggers.

The AccuWaterâ„¢ target market is the millions of homes and businesses with traditional spray and rotor irrigation systems. The way they at AccuWater see it, cutting irrigation water usage by 25-50% saves more than all the other technologies combined can. The way this TreeHugger sees it, it's a parable of sustainable technology development.

Accuwater's feedback system works around water needs of traditional ornamental grasses, as indicated by evapo-transpiration (ET) estimates. Once the loop is in place, however, it could easily be tuned to grasses that need less water or even to a diversified landscape. Ultimately a technology like this is bound to be deployed in micro-agriculture: that's the sort where satellite imagery provides real-time feedback to on-farm computers regarding soil moisture crop health and temperature, precisely controlling water, nutrient, and other inputs over a digital "grid".

The technology involves calculating "evapotranspiration" from collected weather observations, using an onsite weather station, and deploying flow activators controllable by web browser. The browsing (great simile for grass) interface reduces the need for installers or maintenance workers to drive to client sites, thereby saving on gasoline and labor costs. AccuWaterâ„¢ technology also reduces water pollution from run-off and non-point sources such as parking lots and other paved areas. That's an X4 performance boost for resource efficiency: reduces water, fuel, runoff pollution and labor.

For you Techno-Huggers, here's some more insight into the inner workings.

"Over-watering is eliminated because each zone of your property is monitored independently according to your customized profile. Wind waste is also eliminated - AccuWaterâ„¢ stops watering until high winds subside...". "After setup, the system automatically adjusts to weather changes".

Say's AccuWater's Tom Watson: "Because it's a central control system, we have all the operating data (weather, irrigation history, etc.) in our database. It's relatively easy to produce aggregate results that demonstrate the effectiveness of our system". With the internet, any PC can become a "client" to that central server.

Tom also reports: "We are just now releasing a cell phone remote control. It is a Java program that will run on most modern cell phones. It allows the user to connect (over the cellular network and the Internet) to a controller and turn its zones on and off manually. Irrigation contractors love it because it does not require any physical access to the irrigation controller and it has no distance limitations. It's also one less gizmo that they have to carry around with them".

Tom said he expectsto expand nationwide from his base in the Austin TX region soon, but does not want to set expectations that can't be met. I could have asked for more about the inner workings and business plans. But I didn't: that's their turf to defend.

The more micro you get, dividing your land into plots of unique soil and slop characteristics, the more precise and efficient the feedback loop becomes. OK AccuWater, I think you might be getting some calls from organic farmers.

By: John Laumer


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