University of Florida

Irrigation Controllers – Current Projects

Smart Irrigation Controller Demonstration and Evaluation in Orange County

Sponsor: Orange County, Florida

Timeline: 9/29/09 – 12/31/2012


Orange County Utilities is interested in Smart Irrigation Controllers as a potential practice to reduce landscape irrigation water use. Since it is not certain what type of control system is best for a particular type of property or how best to implement the technology, this project aims to test SMS controllers, ET controllers, and to evaluate at least one Central Controlled irrigation system across a range of residential and commercial properties.

Recent research at the University of Florida and in other areas of the U.S. has shown that Smart Irrigation Controllers have the potential to conserve water by efficiently scheduling irrigation. However, most of the work in Florida has been on tightly controlled research plots. The plot work has been valuable to assess the performance potential of these controllers. However, these controllers are relatively complicated to set up and program correctly for efficient irrigation. Thus, it is not known how much feedback or interaction is needed by irrigation professionals to implement these devices to achieve their potential level of water conservation. This scope of work also proposes to have two levels of contractor training and follow-up on controller operation and performance. In addition, the study will target two areas of Orange County with distinct soil differences, sandy vs. flatwoods soils. Finally, if possible during recruitment of cooperators, there will be an attempt to recruit both residential and commercial customers.