Do you know how much water you are using to irrigate your lawn? The Eagle and Gypsum area can offer tips on how you can use your sprinkler system more efficiently. Our local watering index, or CoAgMet station, can help guide you to daily watering schedules that are scientifically based on the current weather and evapotranspiration rates.
Operating as a network of agricultural weather stations around the state of Colorado, the data collected lets us calculate evapotranspiration values to model efficient water use for your lawn and various crops. But what is evapotranspiration, exactly?
Evapotranspiration (ET) is the water loss occurring from the processes of both evaporation and transpiration. More than 99% of the water used by an irrigated turf or crop is drawn through the roots and then transpired through the leaves. Through the CoAgMet stations, an initial soil value is estimated by measuring solar radiation, temperature, humidity and wind. These variables, combined with a specific type of crop or lawn, are plugged into equations that accurately predict the daily rate of ET. Measuring evapotranspiration can equivalate to the amount of water consumed by plants over time and can be used to assess daily watering requirements.
So, how do you use this information? Consider the soil water on your landscape as a bank account. Daily ET amounts are being withdrawn from the soil account. Any rainfall or irrigation added, is a deposit. With data collected by the CoAgMet station, the water balance can be estimated by subtracting ET daily or over a period of time. You can then determine how much irrigation is needed, when the soil value is projected to drop below a certain level. To understand this process better, visit CSU Extension's FAQ on ET to help get you ready to take action:
Reducing your water use will not only help reduce your water bill, but it will help save limited resources while addressing drought concerns. Take action today by obtaining your daily watering index here:
"COlorado AGricultural Meteorological nETwork — COAGMET
In the early 1990's, two groups on the Colorado State campus, the Plant Pathology extension specialists and USDA's Agricultural Research Service Water Management Unit, discovered that they had a mutual interest in collecting localized weather data in irrigated agricultural area. Plant pathology used the data for prediction of disease outbreaks in high value crops such as onions and potatoes, and ARS used almost the same information to provide irrigation scheduling recommendations.
To leverage their resources, these two formed an informal coalition, and invited others in the ag research community to provide input into the kinds and frequency of measurements that would be most useful to a broad spectrum of agricultural customers. A standardized set of instruments was selected, a standard datalogger program was developed, and a fledgling network of some eight stations was established in major irrigated areas of eastern Colorado. As interest grew and funds were made available, primarily from potential users, more stations were added.
Initially, stations were located near established phone service to allow daily collection of data. Soon, cellular phone service began to become widely available, and the group determined that this methodology was a reliable and inexpensive method of data recovery. Commercial software was used to download data from the growing list of stations shortly after midnight to a USDA-ARS computer, from which it was then distributed to interested users via answering machine, automated FAX and satellite downlink (Data Transmission Network).
As the network grew, Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State became interested in these data, and subsequently took over the daily data collection and quality assessment. CCC added internet delivery and a wide range of data delivery options, and continues to improve the user interface in response to a growing interest in these data" (Colostate.edu).
To learn more about CoAgMet stations visit: http://coagmet.colostate.edu/