Media contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Charles Swanson, 979-845-5614, email@example.com
COLLEGE STATION – The Texas A&M School of Irrigation will be conducting two one-day short courses dedicated to smart irrigation controllers and weather station operations Sept. 19-20 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas.
The Sept. 19 short course will cover smart controllers, while the Sept. 20 short course will cover automated weather stations for irrigation.
“Attendees at the smart controllers short course will learn the basics of irrigation scheduling and how smart controllers and sensors determine watering needs,” said Charles Swanson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist, College Station. “An added benefit of the course is that attendees will gain hands-on practice learning how to program some of the common smart controllers on the market.”
Swanson said he and others have been evaluating smart controllers in their lab on the Texas A&M campus for over eight years.
“From our experience, no two controllers are alike in their setup or operation,” he said. “Highlights of controller performance from our evaluation program will be included in the course to help users determine which controller best fits their needs.”
Cost for the Sept. 19 short course is $165 and eight Texas Commission on Environmental Quality continuing education credits for state irrigation licenses will be offered. Registration is available on the AgriLife Extension Conference Services website at https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/.
The Sept. 20 course, Automated Weather Stations for Irrigation, is open to irrigation professionals, landscape managers and those interested in use of weather stations for water conservation programs.
“This course is for those looking to maximize their irrigation scheduling management through the use of onsite weather stations,” Swanson said. “Additionally, water utilities and state agencies can learn how to set up their own weather networks to provide watering recommendations to their clientele through programs like WaterMyYard at https://watermyyard.org or the TexasET Network at http://TexasET.tamu.edu. Attendees will learn about weather sensor selection and operation and also gain hands-on practice building and programming an ET weather station.”
Cost for this short course is $165 and eight TCEQ continuing education units will be available for landscape irrigation licenses.
“We always need to be smart about how much water we use and how we apply it,” Swanson said. “Even with the recent rainfall received across the state, many areas are still experiencing some level of drought conditions.”
Smart irrigation controllers use weather data and/or onsite sensors to determine when to irrigate and how much to apply.
“Weekly landscape irrigation requirements peaked in August which means moving into the fall, you need to irrigate your landscape a little less every week until your plants go dormant in the winter, Swanson said. “Based on results of our smart controller evaluation program, some smart controllers do a good job of adjusting weekly irrigation schedules based on the seasonal changes in watering needs.”
Swanson said those who may not be able to afford a smart controller or don’t have a permanent irrigation system can still use the same science-based irrigation scheduling principles smart controllers utilize by monitoring daily or weekly water requirements on the TexasET Network (http://TexasET.tamu.edu) or find out what your weekly recommended irrigation runtime is by using WaterMyYard (https://WaterMyYard.org) .
“Smart controllers have shown promising results to reduce water usage and promote conservation when programmed correctly,” Swanson said. “However, many end users do not know which smart controller they need or how to program it correctly. This workshop will help those users address those needs.”