While this does require a financial investment of computers in the pump station that turn the system on and off throughout the day, as well as censors in the field measuring the wetness of the soil, now the growers only apply enough water that the tree needs. These systems have only been tested for the past year or two, so results are not conclusive. But the goal is to use water more efficiently and maybe even reduce the amount of water used, Rouse says.
Time to get started
While all of these topics must be carefully considered, you don't have to do it alone. Rouse and Futch recommend growers seek help and guidance from UF/IFAS extension officers, researchers and scientists. If you are comfortable on a computer, spend time searching the Internet and read articles to become familiar with terminology, the latest technology and issues that might come into play in the future, Rouse says. Futch says the National Resource Conservation Service from the U.S. Department of Agriculture can help with irrigation design.
"Seek out as much information as you can to make the best decision because you are going to live with it for a number of years," Rouse says.