Rain-sensing irrigation systems for water conservation


Automated irrigation systems are often the secret to beautiful green lawns, usually controlled by a timer to deliver a measured amount of water. This can save water over a manually operated sprinkler system, which is dependent on the user remembering when to turn the water on and off, however it can also waste a tremendous amount of water because an automated system will turn on and water your lawn even if it’s been raining all day. Canadian company AWS Irrigation has a solution to this problem, using computers to measure both soil moisture conditions and rainfall patterns to only deliver water when needed.
The AWS system senses various factors such as soil moisture, evapotranspiration rates of the plants in the irrigation area, temperature, wind speed, humidity, soil type and drainage. This data is collected on a daily basis by a central monitoring service which compares this information to rainfall data and weather patterns to determine the amount of water needed. This type of system, according to AWS, has the ability to reduce irrigation water usage by up to 50% compared to a standard pre-programmed timer system.

Further carrying on the environmental theme of this technology, the system uses solar powered wireless signal repeaters to connect sites to the control network. Each component of the system has flow control sensors on it, and can be shut off without affecting the rest of the system in order to prevent excessive water waste or localized flooding.

This kind of system can be applied to everything from a stadium field down to a family sized front lawn, and has many water-saving benefits even if industrial-scale irrigation isn’t one of the features you’re looking for.

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Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.


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