Fresh ideas

Judith Benson offers trends in the irrigation industry.

April 14, 2011
Lindsey Getz

Clear Water PSI president, Judith Benson, is active in local and national organizations and has her ears tuned to the latest buzz. She says that smart technology and sustainable services are by far the biggest trend coming down the pipeline for the irrigation industry.

Smart technology

All around, the interest in smart technology has continued to grow. Specifically, Benson has seen the interest in moisture sensor technology really expand. And she says it’s a technology that works very well. “We’ve installed hundreds of units and had good success with them to date,” she says. “And it’s definitely something that we see more clients asking about.”

Advanced controllers, are also gaining ground. “Purveyors are definitely interested in implementing these into their programs,” says Benson. “We’re trying to get a good in-field assessment for how this technology can work in the hands of a general property owner.”

But Benson says all of this smart technology still comes with a learning curve. “It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it type of technology,” she warns. “We’ve installed enough that we know that depending on the application and the area of installation, you need to follow up and keep in touch with the client. We recommend service contracts with this type of technology. And if you are working directly with a client and no purveyor or municipality is involved, a service contract is even more essential. There are a lot of liability issues involved, especially with large estate homes where you’re talking about thousands of dollars put into their landscape.”

Rainwater harvesting

Besides smart technology, sustainable services like rainwater harvesting are the other big rising trend. Benson says she’d urge any irrigation contractor to start looking into these practices.

“Now is the time to begin looking at alternative water sources and if you’re not already familiar with pumps and hydraulics, it’s time to learn,” she says. “There’s some schooling involved and it’s not simple. I have done a bit of education and training with local contractors and the average irrigation contractor knows what they’re talking about with irrigation, but when you start talking about pumps and hydraulics for catchment systems, they aren’t so comfortable.”

To learn the technical aspects, Benson says contractors should take advantage of educational tools and courses, such as the certification through the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association.

“There’s an immense amount of information out there,” she says. “Take advantage of it. And take the time to go get some formalized training. This is definitely the next big thing.”

This story is one of three that appeared in Lawn & Landscape's Water Works e-newsletter. To continue reading about Judith Benson and Clear Water PSI:

A stream of opportunities: Judith Benson started her business with her husband’s truck and a lot of drive. That passion paid off.

Selling smart irrigation: Getting clients onboard with more efficient – and sometimes more expensive – technology means showing them the ROI.