Lake County’s Mobile Irrigation Lab currently serves the agriculture community by visiting groves, nurseries and greenhouses. The program offers a professional, unbiased evaluation of the growers’ irrigation equipment, methods and water use to help them save water, efficiently operate their system and optimize production of their crop.
Lab personnel visit the site, conduct a visual survey of the irrigation system in place including assessment of the piping, irrigation heads, pumps and all other components of the system. They then conduct a series of measurements of water pressure and water flow at various sampling points around the site to determine if any problems exist and then to localize them. All of this data is then input into a spreadsheet, which identifies problem areas and deficiencies in the system.
With this data in hand, personnel provide a report back to the grower identifying deficiencies and making recommendations for improvements based on the data and their visual inspection. When improvements are made, staff will return to the site to conduct a follow-up inspection.
Nick conducts a uniformity test by using catch cans to collect irrigation water.
Since the program began in fall 2006, the Mobile Irrigation Lab team has evaluated more than 11,184 acres and identified potential savings of nearly 200 million gallons of water per year.
Improvements in irrigation usage can have unanticipated benefit to growers when they realize that when they run their diesel or electric pumps less they can save significant amounts on fuel and energy costs.
The Lab is currently funded by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For more information about the Mobile Irrigation Lab, call 352-742-7005, ext. 4.