Shoot the Moon? Irrigation Controller On Steroids?

This morning I was thinking of ways to enhance my irrigation controller, now that I have my old python based solution almost completely migrated to NR. Here is what I came up with, but thought other ideas might be suggested?

Typical irrigation/sprinkler controller, I have on and off intervals for each zone. So the enhancements are focused on how to make the interval value the most efficient it can be for changing conditions. Time of day is important such that you want to water say a lawn earlier not later, but that is a given, right?. Key factor, since I live in a true desert, I want to be water efficient as possible as well, without human intervention except for exceptions.

Here is what I came up with for enhancement ideas:

  1. As day length increases, increase interval by X time for Y zone
  2. As day length decreases decrease interval by X time for Y zone
  3. As wind increases increase interval X time for Y zone
  4. As rain increases decrease interval X time for Y zone (enough rain, interval 0)
  5. If record high temperature increase interval X time for Y zone
  6. If record low temperature decrease interval X time for Y zone
  7. Implement method for validating valve for Y zone has opened and closed as expected (stuck valve alert)
  8. Use visual image to evaluate Y zone state

The first 6 are straight forward, just need to integrate weather source and almanac into the existing controller logic. Finding the right X value for Y zone would develop over time... a learning machine model might one method.

The 7th is the one that I think for me, in a desert is key to add next to the total solution, I have stuck valves about twice a year. The desert is hard on valves and the irrigation water quality significantly adds to reduction of the valve life span as well.

The 8th one, is maybe the most interesting, and wonder if others may have suggestions on how to implement video capture in NR, and integrate some type of limited AI to evaluate the Y zone state? Of course if I can implement the 8th idea above, it would augment 1 through 6 logic as well, and allow for improved X adjustment to interval(s) as noted above.

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Maybe you can add a pulse flow meter to your setup and also measure the pulses.
If no pulses are generated when valve is open then something is wrong.

Moreover this allows you to measure the actual water consumption which is a very interesting metric.


Thanks... that is good idea. There is actually two points to test, the relay state and the water flow state. So I am thinking about how to not only validate that there is water flow, but also that the relay really did its job. It is rare but relays do fail.

Just thinking about some points;

  • only sprinkler while sun is down, garden can then absorb most of the water
  • spread out the intervals evenly during sun down/sun up period
  • if water is cheaper during a certain time interval, only sprinkler then, or if the price difference is significant, consider having your own tank to be filled up at low rate hours


Thanks for the input. :slight_smile:

Interesting... watering at night, I have seen (read of) this recommended and not recommended by various exports on the internet. Some say watering at night promotes mold, mildew, etc. I doubt I will have that issue in the desert, surface water soaks in (sand base soil or high clay content deeper) or drying is pretty fast most of the year, during heat of day. The best time to water in my area is the coolest part of the day, which is just about or slightly before sunrise.

Right now, only have one interval needed, but the design allows for more than one. I was thinking of just adding records to the database for each session for a given zone based on a simple schedule offset. For example, 1 session for zone 0, runs at the schedule time, done. 2 sessions for zone 0, first runs at scheduled time, next runs 4 hours later. My old irrigation controller did similar usually just added 4 hours to the initial start time. So I would water at about 2am then again at 6am (or near sunrise) for example.

Unfortunately, I am billed by the volume of water consumed in total units per month, with the rates per unit increasing as you use more... this is to encourage reduced use we are told. Hence why I tend to have short intervals per valve or zone, and sessions per season shift up or down, so in winter, 1 session zone for 4 minutes, and summer 2 sessions per zone for 4 minutes each, in concept. As long as each session is during the closest part of the day, maximum benefit.