Monday, January 26, 2015

Lindsey Getz

Free-lance writer based in Royersford, Pa.


Fresh ways to water


Irrigation product manufacturers are developing new methods for you to solve problems and satisfy customers.

January 22, 2015

Whether it’s a new product, an add-on or a digital enhancement, irrigation manufacturers are constantly looking for new ways to conserve water and help contractors be more efficient on the job. We recently spoke to several of them about the latest developments they’ve been working on now and for 2015.

DIG Corp. is developing products that are designed to conserve water and other natural resources. This includes the single-station, self-contained solar powered irrigation controller, which requires no batteries or external power supply.

“DIG will be releasing more models in this family line in the near future including our first solar powered hose end timers for home uses,” says Stuart Spaulding, customer service manager. “We are also investing in new extrusion technology that can reduce the amount of raw materials used in the manufacturing of polyethylene tubing and drip line using post-consumer recycled materials.”

Spaulding says that with the release of these products, DIG gives contractors a larger variety of water saving products to choose from. “Installing these products and stressing their benefits to the customer can help make contractors’ businesses grow and become more profitable.”

ETwater is launching a web service for creating an optimized irrigation plan for a property or site. The Free Optimized Irrigation Plan Web Service is accessible through any web browser, and can be created in four steps using an aerial view of the property. After submitting basic landscape details, an analysis of all of the soil, plant, microclimate and other environmental information is automatically made.

“Contractors get a benefit because they get a plan to better understand the options, and to help have a dialog about options and insights with their customers,” says Kevin Heverin, marketing manager for ETwater. “Not only can you see, in a highly visual manner, what you have at any one location, but you can specify and speculate on what you want to do, and see the direct impact of changes or recommendations you would make on the total amount of water needed, and subsequently the savings potential in those recommendations.”

Hunter has recently introduced the MP800SR rotary nozzle. The nozzle was designed to be high-efficiency for short radius applications.

“Hunter heard a need to expand the MP Rotator family to short radius applications. Getting water to throw at a 6-foot radius efficiently was a difficult engineering task that led to two years of development,” says Kelsey Jacquard, product manager, MP rotors and sprays. “The new MP800SR gives irrigation contractors more options when irrigating small spaces for both new installations and existing systems. The MP800SR allows for water conservation technology in areas that previously could only use high-flowing traditional spray nozzles.”

Along with the savings a contractor can see from a more efficient product, Jacquard says reduction in material costs will also help the bottom line.

“The benefits of a high efficiency irrigation system outweigh the cost difference between the MP Rotator and traditional spray nozzles,” she says.

IrriGreen is trying to reduce the tools contractors need to manage irrigation for The IrriGreen Genius Sprinkler, which features a digital valve-in-head and a pop-up rotor with a low-flow, 14-stream, multi-trajectory nozzle.

As the Genius Server monitors and adjusts stream volume, direction and distance, IrriGreen matches watering patterns to the specific shape of each zone and maintains uniform water distribution at distances from 0-35 feet. The company will introduce a smart phone app for its Genius Controller, a wireless handheld device that looks like a digital watch.

“You position water streams to a landscape feature and hit save on the handheld, and the mapping points for each zone are stored on the Genius Server, which controls our sprinklers,” says Ray Lamovec, marketing director.

“With a smartphone app, IrriGreen is even easier to use. Contractors do not need a separate handheld. With a smartphone app, we can provide more functionality.”

Netafim’s Mauricio Troche, director of sales and marketing for landscape and turf products, says the company’s NLC line of smart controllers for both new projects and retrofitting can help save water. The latest, the NLC3D and hydrometer, combines flow sensing, a master valve and a water meter.

“There has been a recent trend of commercial maintenance contractors, specifically, interested in saving more water,” Troche says. “They need flow-sensing technology and with 3D can add a master valve or flow sensor without having to install wires back to the controller.”

Troche says the company has been getting customer requests for more solutions that go hand-in-hand with drip irrigation technology. In addition, Troche says that the Hydrometer may offer cost savings. “Our hydrometer is a sub-meter, master valve, and flow sensing all-in-one unit,” he says. “That is less expensive than buying two or three of those components separately.”

Toro released the Smart Connect Add-On accessories for its Evolution controller. When Evolution was introduced in 2013, it won the Irrigation Association’s New Product of the Year award, which the company believes was largely due to its ability to add additional features to the controller.

Toro has developed proprietary radio technology that allows a single receiver to communicate wirelessly to multiple types of add-on features including the Wireless ET Sensor, Precision Soil Sensor, Wireless Auxiliary Relay and a handheld remote. Burnett Jones, senior marketing manager, says the company decided to invest in this technology because it felt there were unmet needs when it came to the ability to add multiple types of features to a controller – through a single device, wirelessly.

“Contractors have the ability to upsell their installation or to come back at a later time to do so,” Jones says.

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