What are moisture levels? (Flexible Daily Schedules)

Note

Moisture Levels and soil moisture graphs are only enabled for zones in Flexible Daily Schedules.

How to access moisture level data

If you have a zone in multiple schedule types, the moisture level data is only applicable to Flexible Daily schedules.

Flexible Daily schedules will record the estimated moisture balance of each zone using evapotranspiration (ET) data provided by your preferred weather station. To see the moisture level calculated in a given zone, use the "Moisture Levels" screen (accessible via the mobile or web interface) to better understand when & why a schedule will run or not.

  1. After logging into your account, go to the "Zones" tab. Select the zone you wish to review and click anywhere on the zone tile. 

    Rachio zones

  2. You'll see the Zone Details screen as well as the soil moisture percentage.

    Rachio zone details

  3. If you click on the Soil Moisture percentage, you can view the Soil Moisture graph to see your Moisture Levels.

    Rachio moisture graph

    For detailed information, select "More Detail" and view:

  • Previous Moisture Balance for the prior day
  • Any NEW irrigation events (credit)
  • Any NEW precipitation/rain events (credit)
  • Crop ET (debit)
  • Current Moisture Balance for the day with that day's debit & credits calculated.
  1. Rachio moisture graph,

How do moisture levels work?

If you have a zone in multiple schedules, it's not uncommon for the moisture level to go above the Field Capacity for the zone. This is because the system is auto-refilling without regard to other irrigation or precipitation/rain events. Flexible Daily Schedules water your lawn like filling up your car's gas tank anytime it hits a half tank (assuming allowed depletion is set to 50%). This practice of only drawing down the moisture level to a certain point is called Management Allowed Depletion, which establishes the maximum amount of water that can be removed from your zones (through evapotranspiration) before a watering cycle occurs. This ensures your lawn will receive the right amount of water - not too much or too little - and makes the most of the water available.    

Flexible Daily Schedules will only water when the moisture level reaches Allowed Depletion within the moisture graph. This is because the system is auto-refilling with regard to other irrigation AND precipitation/rain events.

Gas Tank Analogy

To understand how this works, it's helpful to compare it to a gas tank. At 50% your gas tank is half full; but using Management Allowed Depletion (MAD) principals, it's 3/4 full at 25% and 1/4 full at 75%.

Note

You can change the allowed depletion percentage to adjust the watering duration and interval for each zone within Advanced Settings. From the "Zones" tab, tap the zone you would like to adjust. From the zone details screen, select "Edit" and then "Advanced". You can then change the percentage of allowed depletion using the slider (default allowed depletion is set at 50%). 

Everyday we'll look at how much "fuel" your lawn has used and calculate when/if we've hit the refill point (allowed depletion). By default, we set the refill point (allowed depletion) to 50%, however this can be changed to anything from 0-100%; thus the name Management Allowed Depletion, or MAD.

The Moisture Level graphs display the percentage of the moisture available within, or how much fuel you have left before you hit the refill point. If MAD is set to 50% and your Moisture Level graph reads 50%, then your lawn's "gas tank" is really 3/4 full and will be refilled when it's 1/2 full. If your Moisture Level graph reads 0%, then your lawn's "gas tank" is really 1/2 full and ready for a refill. Think of it as a percentage of a percentage. Flexible Daily schedules will always water when the Moisture Balance hits Allowed Depletion.

Bank Account Analogy 

Moisture levels and Allowed Depletion can be complex - here's another way to think about about it. Imagine you have a bank account that has a variable amount of money taken from it each day (ET data). You don't want that value to hit zero, so you set a reminder to add more money to the account when it hits a certain point (Manageable Allowed Depletion). This percentage is set by you, but whenever it goes off, you add money in and top off your account. This is how Moisture levels work; if you set an alert to go off when you have lost 25% of your account balance, it will add money in, even though you still have 75% left in the account. By default this percentage is set at 50%, but just remember that you are setting the reminder for how much money you are willing to lose, not how much will be left.

When to use Fill or Empty

On rare occasions, you may want to manually adjust how much water is in your zone by selecting "Fill" (if you think the zone is very moist and want to push out watering) or "Empty" (if you think the zone is dry and will need to be watered sooner than is scheduled). This can be helpful if:  

  • You have just set up a Flex schedule and want to delay watering because zones have recently been watered (select "Fill")
  • Your irrigation system is malfunctioning and unable to water your zones, but your controller thinks it is watering (select "Empty")

If you feel your zone is in need of more immediate watering, you can click on the "Adjust" button and select "Empty". This will take your soil moisture down to this zone's minimum threshold. The next time a Flex Daily schedule performs its checks, it will know it's time to refill the zone.

Rachio moisture graph

 

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