Irrigation auditing/scheduling software migrates to ‘the cloud’
click image to zoomCharles SwansonGuy Fipps, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service irrigation engineer, College Station, said new cloud-based irrigation auditing software can be accessed with practically any modern smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. A newly launched website will allow persons to audit an irrigation system completely from the field using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service engineer.
“This is a major upgrade to the current software used for landscape irrigation auditing and producing of irrigation schedules,” said Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station.
An irrigation audit is part of a systematic process for saving water by measuring the sprinkler systems’ output and scheduling water applications that match the seasonal changes in weather and plant water use, Fipps said.
By law, anyone installing, maintaining or scheduling an irrigation system in Texas must be licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, he said.
“However, auditing is not a part of the irrigation licenses,” Fipps said. “The EPA provides a WaterSense Auditor Certification, which is administered in Texas by AgriLife Extension. To become an auditor in Texas, you must take AgriLife Extension’s auditing class and pass the certification exam.”
Since the inception of the AgriLife Extension irrigation auditing training in the mid-1990s, more than 4,000 persons have taken the course.
“Besides licensed irrigators, about 40 percent of the students have been landscape professionals, city conservation personnel, homeowners and Master Gardeners, and most have gone on to become licensed irrigators, irrigation technicians and irrigation inspectors,” he said.
The training has evolved over the years, as has the software used to do the complicated and tedious calculations needed to coordinate multiple automatic irrigation controllers over a large area, Fipps said.
“Texas regulations now require a seasonal ET-based irrigation schedule be provided for all new landscape irrigation systems,” he said. “The software can also be used to produce this for new irrigation systems.”
The Texas Landscape Irrigation Auditing program began as simple software designed to run on personal computers. But as the training had to constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of Texas landscape and water-use restrictions, the software has had to expand its horizons as well, he said.
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