Efficient Home Irrigation

soil moisture sensor controllers

It’s raining, as it often does in Florida, and all of a sudden you realize that your sprinklers are on. You think, what a waste!, perhaps vowing to keep better tabs on the weather forecast. However, efficient home irrigation may be even more important than you think.

Nearly half of all public drinking water in Florida typically goes to outdoor water use around the home. This means that minimizing the amount of water used to irrigate lawns and gardens is an important part of conserving water in Florida.1

Automated irrigations systems, the ones that you set and let run at regular intervals throughout the year, are much less efficient than non-automated irrigation—for example, watering your lawn with a hose.1 Fortunately, advances in irrigation technology can make irrigation both efficient and automated.

Evapotranspiration (ET) Controllers

ET controllers use real-time or historical weather data to irrigate when conditions warrant it.2

Soil Moisture Sensor (SMS) Controllers

SMS controllers monitor the amount of water in the soil.3

Bypass SMS controllers will skip scheduled watering if the soil moisture is still acceptable.3 Bypass systems are usually used in residential landscapes.2

On-demand SMS controllers will turn irrigation on if the moisture in the soil falls below a certain level.3 On-demand SMS controllers are usually used on commercial properties or in landscapes that have diverse irrigation needs.2

Though SMS controllers won’t turn off if it’s raining, they will adjust the amount of future irrigation based on the amount of moisture added by the rain.3

For more information see the Smart Irrigation Controllers series and Frequently Asked Questions about Soil Moisture Sensor Irrigation Controllers (SMS).


  1. Michael D. Dukes, Mary Shedd, and Bernard Cardenas-Lailhacar, Smart Irrigation Controllers: How Do Soil Moisture Sensor (SMS) Irrigation Controllers Work? AE437, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae437
  2. Michael D. Dukes, Smart Irrigation Controllers: What Makes an Irrigation Controller Smart? AE442, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae442
  3. Paul Monaghan, Ondine Wells, Michael Dukes, Maria Morera, and Laura Warner, Frequently Asked Questions about Soil Moisture Sensor Irrigation Controllers (SMS), AEC576, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc238

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

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sgrenrock

sgrenrock

Web Writer at IFAS Communications

Sam is originally from California and has her BA in linguistics and MFA in poetry. She loves art, animals, culture, and learning about science.

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