Finally, the future is here. If you don’t believe me, ask Marty McFly and Doc Brown who thirty years ago traveled to present day (October 21, 2015) to save his future family. In honor of Back To The Future Day, which we celebrated last week by shamelessly binge watching the trilogy, we thought we’d give you a deeper look into the futuristic science and technology behind our automated watering systems. Here we go:
It’s an irrigation system that connects to your home’s WiFi and automatically adjusts its settings based on local current and forecasted weather information, and other important irrigation factors (we’ll get to these factors in a bit). The system integrates with various devices and sensors such as rain sensors, soil moisture sensors, fertilizer pump, and flow meters, as well as other IoT garden sensors that you can purchase separately and add on. Because everything is automated, your irrigation system requires very little effort on your part. It hooks up to your smartphone or desktop via cloud technology so you access the information anywhere, giving you real-time status reports as well as full control over scheduling.
What is Evapotranspiration?
Our automated irrigation system begins by calculating the evapotranspiration rate of your garden, which is the sum of evaporation from the soil and transpiration (water loss) from a plant. There are many atmospheric factors that affect evapotranspiration like temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation. For example, as temperature rises, so does evapotranspiration because higher temperatures causes plants to open their stomata, the tiny pores that release water vapor into the atmosphere. At the same time, as relative humidity rises, evapotranspiration falls because it’s more difficult for water to evaporate into more water saturated air than into drier air.
Why is Evapotranspiration important?
This calculation, coupled with forecasted weather information provided by the nearest local weather station, is what powers the automated system to adjust and modify its watering settings. Basically, if the system detects that the evapotranspiration rate is high, it will sprinkle more water, and if it’s low, it will reduce the amount of water it delivers. For example, the system knows to provide extra water on hot days and a little less water on cold and cloudy days. If it’s windy out, the system will increase the time and pressure of the water flow because high wind speeds means higher evapotranspiration (more water loss). And of course, if rain is predicted, the system will shut down completely.
Since the IoT system is always running and constantly searching for atmospheric changes, you never run the risk of overwatering or under-watering your plants. Rather, your plants receive the exact amount of water that is required for that day’s particular atmospheric conditions. Not only does this keep your plants and garden extremely healthy and green, but it also saves you the cost of water. Think about how much extra water your old generation sprinkler system must be wasting without seeing and considering essential outside conditions. It’s very common for sprinklers to cause excess runoff into the street or driveway because plants can only absorb so much water, especially on a cold day when evapotranspiration is low–this ends up wasting tens of thousands gallons of water and hundreds of dollars every year. And we all know you’ve accidentally left the sprinklers on during a rainstorm. But it’s ok, your secret is safe with me because, truthfully, we’ve all been there.
Was I right? Is that the future, or what? It’s a system that automatically detects atmospheric conditions in your area and modifies its sprinkler settings to ensure you save money and keep your plants healthy, thriving, and most importantly, alive. I’m sure Marty McFly and Doc Brown wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the technological advancements behind such an unassuming everyday system (okay, maybe Doc Brown would–he did create a time machine, after all).