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Florida Water StarSM Technical Manual

Irrigation system criteria

Operation and scheduling

Soil moisture sensor (SMS) controllers

Background

An SMS controller uses a moisture-detecting probe installed within the root zone in a landscape to determine if irrigation is required. The user programs soil moisture threshold determined by on-site soil conditions. If soil moisture is above this threshold, the soil moisture is sufficient for landscape survival, and the regular irrigation cycle is bypassed. If the measured soil moisture is below the threshold, there is no interference, and the regular irrigation cycle is activated.

Requirements and certification

An SMS controller with one SMS probe is correctly installed, using burial grade connectors in the valve box, and is correctly functioning.

Silver

Gold

Commercial/Institutional

NA

15 points

NA

Alternatively, multiple sensor probes can be installed in multiple zones and connected to the irrigation system (multiple zone coverage).

An SMS controller with multiple SMS probes is correctly installed, using burial grade connectors in the valve box, and is correctly functioning.

Silver

Gold

Commercial/Institutional

NA

20 points

NA

Installation of a single SMS probe should occur in an area that is most representative of the entire landscape, or the highest water use zone.

Typical soil moisture sensor installation

Typical soil moisture sensor installation.

The presence of an SMS controller should be indicated on the as-built drawing as well as the location of the probe(s). It is the responsibility of the certifier to confirm that the controller is correctly wired to the irrigation controller.

The certifier must also test that the SMS controller is functional. The following are two suggested methods for testing SMS controller functioning:

  • Following a significant rainfall event, manually activate an irrigation cycle while the sensor is in the bypass setting. This is done by pressing the irrigation controller’s manual start button. When the manual start button is pressed, the system should not come on.
  • Pour a bucket of water over the area(s) where the probe is located, and then activate the manual start of the irrigation controller.
Program tip

Smart Water Application Technology (SWAT) devices are capable of increasing scheduling efficiency, resulting in significant water savings. However, correct installation of these devices requires diligent planning and implementation of a number of best practices. Designers and installers must ensure that any type of SWAT device is able to provide the greatest water savings possible. For more information on SMS installation refer to Field Guide to Moisture Sensor Use in Florida.

St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
800-725-5922