Intelligent Irrigation

IntelliSense by Toro Irrigation is a timer that transforms standard landscape irrigation systems into highly efficient products. Using weather data sent via satellite, it reduces the average water bill by up to 50 percent, and presents a great opportunity for builders looking to add green practices and offer clients a cost-saving — and water-saving — luxury.

The key to IntelliSense is its use of Evapo-transpiration, a process of measuring exact amounts of water plants need. “This timer knows what types of plants [a homeowner] has, what conditions the plants are planted in, what type of soil and the type of irrigation system installed,” says Craig Borland, senior custom resource specialist for the Riverside, Calif.-based company.

IntelliSense then combines the plant data with real-time weather information gathered from Toro’s corporate office.

“Independently owned weather stations will send us the weather information via digital cell transmission. We then calculate that information into micro zones or specific areas — accurate to within ½ sq. mile — and send this to each individual controller via digital cell. The digital cell transmission is fed by satellite,” Borland says.

“It takes four types of weather information to create an irrigation schedule — wind speed, outdoor temperature, outdoor humidity and solar exposure. The key concept is that you’re only replacing the moisture that’s been lost,” Borland adds. An added benefit besides its efficiency factor is that plants get water only when they need it, eliminating overwatering and run-off.

Borland adds that a rain sensor should be used in addition to this product. The system takes 24 hours to update weather information and a rain sensor can keep the irrigation system from operating while it’s raining.

Borland says this is not a set-it-and-forget-it system. “You need to set it, watch it and fine-tune it. Plants are stressed at first because you are changing what they are used to. We often work with the maintenance contractors who handle the landscaping, and if something isn’t right with the system, they should call us and we’ll help [reconfigure the system],” he says.

The timer is hardwired to sprinkler valves, and it is recommended that installation be handled by an irrigation professional.

“This technology isn’t something you find in a do-it-yourself store. The accuracy of the product relies on accurate information that’s entered during installation,” Borland adds.

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