Then & Now: Promoting efficient water use

Irrigation control systems in the 1960s operated much like an old clock with wheels, cogs and dials.

Modern irrigation systems have been improved to supply water in an environmentally friendly way.

Van-Kel has been serving the Central Okanagan for more than 47 years.

Van-Kel is a distributor of irrigation and landscaping equipment for its residential, commercial and industrial clients.

Irrigation is defined as the artificial application of water to land and is used to assist agriculture and landscape improvements in dry areas and during periods of drought.

Irrigation serves to maintain a steady rate of water application rather than have periods of ‘feast or famine’ which can be stressful for the plants and impact the harvest yields, trees, lawns and landscape plants.

With the irrigation in the 1960s, some of the first controllers operated much like an old clock with wheels, cogs and dials, we have some of these more antique controllers in the store for history if anyone would be interested.

The older valves ran by using a hydraulic tube with pressure differential. There was a distribution system that allowed pressure to different zones, whereby the controller allowed the water to discharge which then turned on the valve.

Today’s irrigation systems are very simple, using electric or hydraulic valves and pipes buried underground to provide water at intervals through a controller set to water at certain times and days .

The electric valves are operated once the controller sends an electrical signal to the valve allowing the valve to open and water to flow. Once the signal is terminated the valve turns off.

When set up, the system requires some maintenance and upkeep. Sometimes rescheduling of the controller is required to allow for water restrictions that change or weather changes as the seasons move from cooler and wetter climate to the hot dry summer days.

One of the more recent innovations in irrigation is the introduction of climate weather sensing systems that automatically change your controller’s run times to account for the seasonal changes. No more manual changing of the system.

These systems also stop the irrigation from coming on if rainfall has been sufficient to water without the addition of more water.

There are many brands of these add-ons so one is available to fit most irrigation systems.