Carlsbad irrigation leader Calsense is incorporating AI and machine learning to minimize water and labor waste. The company has unveiled a new roadmap detailing where it’s been and a multi-phase vision for the future with advancements ranging from simple timers to predictive analytics.
“At Calsense, we have nearly 40 years of smart irrigation experience,” said Calsense Senior Product Manager Josh Lehman. “This new vision for smart irrigation allies that unparalleled industry understanding with cutting edge technology to make the process of irrigation increasingly efficient and by extension, sustainable.”
The integration of generative AI begins during the fourth stage of the company’s seven-stage roadmap. “I cannot share too much at this time but one of the challenges in irrigation has been educating irrigators on sustainable landscaping techniques when they hardly have enough time to do the bare minimum to keep things green,” Lehman explained. “Using generative AI can help irrigators gain access to over 37 years of Calsense irrigation experience simply by using our user interface in an intuitive way. We will have an announcement in the near future with more details about how we’re implementing this stage.”
Stages five and six build off stage four, with an added focus on simplifying complex irrigation systems for users so that they feel like experts. “With the use of maps and graphical representations of data, we can help users better utilize the controllers, irrigation valves, pipes, and other equipment that they manage on a day-to-day basis,” he added.
Stage seven introduces predictive analytics. “Currently, irrigation is mostly managed by waiting for a failure and then fixing it,” said Lehman. “Predictive analytics helps irrigators be proactive in the way they are managing their irrigation system by giving them the tools needed to identify issues and correct issues before they become problems.”
The rollout is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and will be critical for maintaining sustainable landscaping in San Diego, given the semi-arid climate, water shortages and environmental concerns. “Sustainable landscaping practices, such as using drought-tolerant plants, efficient irrigation systems, and proper soil management techniques can significantly reduce water consumption. By minimizing water usage, San Diego can ensure a more long-term and reliable water supply for both residential and commercial needs while reducing strain on local water sources and infrastructure,” Lehman explained and added, “Sustainable landscaping reduces the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals, protecting the health of both people and the environment.”
The cost-savings can’t be ignored, either. “By implementing water-efficient irrigation systems and utilizing native or drought- tolerant plant species, water bills can be significantly reduced.”
Some of Calsense’s most recognizable clients include San Diego State University, Cal State San Marcos, San Diego County Parks, Caltrans, City of Oceanside, City of Vista and City of Encinitas.
“To my knowledge, we are the only manufacturer in the industry that offers factory-direct support, local to our customers,” he shared. “A new differentiator is our latest offering – Irrigation Management as a Service (IMaaS) – which is essentially making all our hardware and our cutting-edge technology available as a subscription.”
The company is also heavily focused on philanthropic and educational efforts. Among them, CEO A.J. van de Ven teaches a water management course at California State University, San Marcos and serves as chairman of the board for local non-profit ECOLIFE Conservation. Recent awards include the Irrigation Association’s December 2022 “New Product Contest”, Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s “2023 Business of the Year” and “Best Place to Work” in 2019.
“There are many opportunities in irrigation to take the industry to the next level,” Lehman added. “The opportunity to assist Calsense in utilizing cutting-edge technologies to improve people’s lives and drive significant environmental change is what makes coming into the office every day both easy and exciting for me.”
CEO: A.J. van de Ven
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
NOTABLE: Calsense won the Silver Award in the Irrigation Association’s “New Product Contest” in December 2022