Each year, there any number of events that I write about where the importance of the message goes far beyond the “official” month of observance. One of these is Smart Irrigation Month. For the past few years, when I think smart irrigation, I think of Johnny Georges, so this year I decided; why not give Johnny his due?
If you’re a fan of Shark Tank like me, you may remember Johnny for pitching his Tree T-Pee on a 2014 episode. A humble entrepreneur and farmer, Johnny innovated his Tree T-Pee to help farmers save plants from frost, as well as save money lost through inefficient irrigation systems, which delivered only about 10 percent of the water used to the trees and plants. Moreover, under standard systems, farmers were consuming—and paying for—enough fuel to run their pumps 10-12 hours every day.
We know that Johnny is in good company with many others working continuously to increase the efficiency of irrigation systems. These innovators are further supported by companies such as American Water that are increasing the capacity for recycling treated water for use in irrigation as well as business applications such as manufacturing. And, once again, these groups are supported by advocates working to get more people, businesses and governments on board as “responsible irrigators.”
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make a large impact. Johnny’s Tree T-Pee provided a solution that delivered 3” worth of rain to plants in as little as 30 minutes, and reduced water usage from 25,000 gallons per tree per year to only 800 gallons per tree per year. With a simple piece of plastic, Johnny developed a way to conserve water, reduce farmers’ carbon footprint and help them financially.
As a final bit of food for thought on the topic of smart irrigation, I share just one example that should drive home why the quest for greater water reuse and more efficient irrigation is so vital. It takes approximately 11 gallons of water to produce one pound of tomatoes—and more than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced every year. That’s 120,000,000,000 gallons of water just for tomatoes alone! And we haven’t even calculated the water needed to irrigate and maintain everything from athletic fields and sports stadiums, to parks, golf courses and more.
There’s no denying that irrigation is a major-league player when it comes to water use, which is why all those involved in conserving our water resources will continue to give it significant attention and invest in its improvement.