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High-tech watering with
Rain Bird's auto-irrigation system

January 13, 2010 |  6:30 am

The buzzword in gardening these days isn't so much a word but an acronym: ET, short for "evapotranspiration."

The term refers to the release of moisture through plant leaves, and it's invoked in discussions about intelligent watering and new products such as Rain Bird's ESP-SMT Smart Control System. Using a control panel, gardeners enter information about the site, the sprinkler type, plant and soil characteristics, sun exposure and more. Meanwhile the weather sensor pictured here monitors temperature and rainfall.

Together, the components automate your irrigation and maintain optimum moisture levels in the soil. The system promises to turn a fairly hefty investment (about $450) into water bills that are reduced by 30% to 70%. "It depends on how efficiently people were watering before," spokesman Christen Brooker says. "Anyone spending $500 to $1,000 for water a year is going to get a sufficient return." Information: www.rainbird.com/esp-smt.

-- Jeff Spurrier

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rain Bird