In case you missed the mania at the Irrigation Association Show in Las Vegas, Nevada last week here’s what you missed. When you’re around irrigation people, you quickly realize the only thing they want to talk about is irrigation. Last week was no disappointment as the brightest and best met at the show. In discussing what we saw last week my team all recognized these five trends.
This marketing format continues to grow with the membership. During the week the #irrigationshow was used over 500 times by over 160 users. Jain Irrigation in partnership with Corona Tools, Ewing Irrigation, and Lawn and Landscape Magazine hosted a live #landscapechat from the show floor. This was the sixth year in a row we held the weekly #landscapechat from the show floor. In the hour we tweeted 159 messages to over 110,000 users. We had a few thousand at the show and digital is an excellent way to reach water conservationists not able to make it. Some of the major Twitter contributors include, Dr. Michael Dukes, Prakor USA, Ewing Irrigation, Warren Gorowitz, Lawn and Landscape Magazine, Corona Tools, Growing Magazine, Jain Irrigation, Turf Magazine, Hunter Industries, Landscape Management, Rain Bird, ThirstyLandFilm, H2oTrends, K Rain and Fresno State. Not a bad list of who knows what’s going on with water.
Warren Gorowitz (Ewing Irrigation) @Waterguru2, Chris Sabbarese (Corona
Tools) @csabbarese and Richard Restuccia (Jain Irrigation)
@H2oTrends – Photo courtesy of Kate Spirgen Lawn and Landscape
There were over 80 smart controller manufacturers at this year’s show. That is up from around 50 two years ago, and just a couple 5 years ago. HydroPoint continues to dominate the commercial market and Rachio is killing it in the residential market. The good news is with all those competitors duking it out to grab market share early, we are going to see more and better features to manage water. The big question is how many of these competitors can survive. Based on the small percentage of people actually using these controllers now, the future could be bright for a lot of these manufacturers.
Water For Food
Dr. Peter McCornick, Executive Director of the Daugherty Water For Food Institute was the keynote speaker and presented “Water for Food Security: Solutions for the Context.” Dr. McCornick provided estimates like today a billion people in the world are food-insecure and many also lack sufficient reliable water to meet their needs. In addition, water for agriculture will double by 2050. There is no doubt when given the choice between food and a nice residential landscape – food is going to win out. The majority of the crowd attending the presentation were from the landscape industry and I did not hear one groan or gasp. No one even had a question for Dr. McCornick when he finished (in defense the IA did not ask for questions). Is this telling us the landscape irrigation industry knows this is happening and is prepared or is the industry politely turning its head, praying for more rain and will deal with it later. Or maybe it is a bigger issue, see number five.
Thirsty Land Film
The film Thirsty Land was shown at the show and created quite the buzz. Conrad Weaver the Producer/Director of the film tells us “The story of drought needs to be told! Our global food supply and our very survival as humans depends on clean, abundant fresh water. I want to make the audience think about it every time they take a drink of water, enjoy a shower, or water their lawn. We have been given stewardship of a treasure that’s precious and provides food for the world. It must be managed well so that future generations have the same opportunities we enjoy.” This message was well received and I encourage everyone to see the movie. You can see a list of future screenings here and if you have an idea for a screening you can contact Conrad there too and let him know your idea.
In general the attendance at the show seemed high. I think the booths were closer together, which provided additional energy and a feeling that many people were there. Most everyone I spoke with told me they had more people to see than they had time for. However, most people also mentioned the absence of contractors at the show. Maybe one in 15 – 20 people attending the show were landscape contractors. This is a critical time for the landscape industry (see #3 and #4) and we need to do more to attract contractors to the show. Today contractors can build their business around water management. This is an excellent way to differentiate your company from the competition. Landscapers receive excellent training from the Irrigation Association on water management as well as hard to earn certifications. The knowledge they gain is valuable and the tests they take are rigorous and reflect practical knowledge helping save customer’s water and money. Contractors deal daily with large organizations like the Building Owners and Managers Associationor Community Association Institute. These organizations help write the scope of work for landscapers. We need to educate them more on the work of the Irrigation Association and the value of certification. IA certification in water management should be a requirement on every maintenance contract nationwide. This won’t happen until the IA markets itself better to these organizations. When this happens we will see more contractors at the show.