Overview of Landscape Irrigation
Irrigation of landscape does not only refer to watering of lawn/ garden/ landscape but it is all about adequately undertaking this operation so that we are not only able to satisfy the water demand of grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees but, at the same time able to generate aesthetic sense and ambient microclimate due to pleasing appearance (desired colour, shape, height : applicable for grasses and shrubs) of all the landscape components. Generation of pleasant microclimate is only possible with an efficient irrigation system which has the following characteristics:
a) Delivers the desired amount of water to the grass (which is neither so less that it causes water stress, nor so high that it causes waterlogging) with optimization of available resources (water, energy, and labour)
b) Makes irrigation possible in odd hours (night time) and other times (holidays) when it is practically not possible for the gardener to irrigate the area manually.
With an irrigation system possessing the above-stated characteristics, it is always possible to keep the grass greener on your side. Lush green Landscapes of Akshardhan Temple, Vrindavan Gardens and Lotus Temple are the best examples of effectively managed irrigation systems. But how such green pastures are made? Automation in Irrigation is the most appropriate answer to this question. Automation in irrigation refers to mechanizing the irrigation system through a series of valves, rotors, sprinklers, drip and hoses by appropriately designing this system keeping in mind the water requirement of flora of the landscape (flowers, shrubs and grasses) and available resources (electricity, labour).
Drivers of Automation in Irrigation
When we talk about Automation of irrigation in Landscape, we need to first look at the drivers responsible for it. The prime reasons because of which landscape irrigation should rapidly move towards automating the operations in the lawns and gardens are as follows:
a.1) Uniformity of discharge results in better quality of the grasses, flowers and shrubs.
a.2) Uniform Irrigation is also feasible on land with elevation difference.
a.3) Reduces dependency on labour.
a.4) Night irrigation is also possible.
Due to the shortage of manpower for effective landscape management and the advantages that Automation offers, moving towards Automation will be the best solution to develop exemplary gardens.
Components of an Automated Irrigation system
An Automated Irrigation System consists of the following main components:
b) Sensors (Moisture sensors)
c) Irrigation Controllers
d) Solenoid Valve
e) Fertigation System (optional)
f) Standard Components of a Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation system (ARV, Pressure Gauge, Filter, Main Line , Sub Main Line, Rotors (Pop up Sprinklers), Sprayers, Bubblers, emitters and emitting pipes.
Working of an Automated Irrigation System
Moisture sensors detect and guide the controllers about the ambient Temperature and Moisture requirement. The irrigation sensors detect the water level and indicate when it falls so that irrigation can be planned based on that. So, the sensors raise an alarm for the controllers to signal the irrigation which in turn help to calibrate the entire irrigation schedule through the solenoid valves. Through solenoid valves, Mainline, Sub mainline and Rotors and/ or emitters, water is delivered in the appropriate quantities in the area where it is desired. By way of this, water can also be delivered at night when it is not practically possible by manual means. In addition to this, these controllers followed by solenoid valves can also give us the liberty to automate the irrigation and Fertigation (optional) for longer periods of time like a week/ 10 days etc.
An automation system also can give gardener luxuries like Auto cut when the moisture level in the garden reaches the water demand and Automatic on and off on a particular day (like a Holiday when you would like to keep it on).
Therefore, all of the above Automation means combined with good planning can yield the desired results for landscape architects. Automation is a boon for beautiful Landscapes but it has to be managed well to yield good results. A few limitations of this technique are listed below:
a) Requires high initial investment.
b) Technical awareness of the technician who operates the system is the heart of the system. Even the best automation will not work if not handled by a person who has proper knowledge of the Automation system.
c) There is less awareness among the masses for the importance of greenery and landscape and the positive effect that it can bring about in our lives.
If all the above limitations are addressed well, by public- private partnerships in the country we can transform gardening and landscaping in the country making India a better and a more beautiful place to live in.