Irrigation - Soil Moisture Monitoring
Getting your irrigation right is key to success. Since agriculture is the world’s largest consumer of water, more and more restrictions apply. Without modern technology it is almost impossible to get your irrigation right. Once the plant shows stress it’s too late. But that hardly ever happens – the contrary is the case, as farmers usually put on ways too much. Soil moisture monitoring is the way to go.
Irrigation plays an increasingly important role in agriculture, not only to boost production, but also to compensate for erratic rain fall patterns and uneven distribution. To be on the safe side most farmers put on ways too much water, overlooking that too much can be even more devastating than too little. Why is that so important?
As plants grow their active root zone moves through the soil profile. And since it’s this root zone where the water uptake takes place, it is this area where water needs to be. That’s even more important if you add fertilizer to your fields. Water will carry your fertilizer to your crops’ active root zones. If you irrigate too much you’ll simply be wasting fertilizer, moving it eventually all the way down into the groundwater, getting you in trouble with the water works. If you irrigate too little, your fertilizer gets stuck in the top layers, cannot be used by the plant, and will eventually even disappear into the atmosphere.
But even without fertilizer you don’t want to overirrigate, as you will fill all pores with water, replacing oxygen, thus giving your roots and the microorganisms in your soil a hard time to breathe.
You really want to get it right, get that water to where the active root zone is, not above and not below. Soil moisture monitoring is a great way to achieve this goal!
ADCON provides a variety of soil moisture sensors, reaching as far down as 150cm into your soil. We have the right answer for every crop, soil and budget. The range of products goes from proven gypsum blocks to highly sophisticated capacitive multi-layer soil moisture probes that not only measure moisture, but also conductivity/salinity and temperature. They can be installed easily, with hardly any disturbance to your soil structure, and will deliver solid data almost right away.
Quickly assess issues such as
- Current soil moisture status
- Active root zone depth
- Depth of irrigation/fertigation
- Infiltration rate
- Daily water consumption rates
- Date / time of irrigations
- Irrigation rates and run times
- Total water used (per irrigation, week, month, season)
The sensors utilize commercially and scientifically proven techniques to provide readings that are highly repeatable. The use of either default or site specific calibrations enables soil moisture content to be determined with a high degree of accuracy across the full range of soil types. Most important, however, is the availability of continuous data which enables the irrigation manager to visualize the crops' response to his irrigation practices and to better understand crop and soil water relationships in order to adjust his day to day management decisions.
The major advantage of direct soil moisture measurement is the accuracy of the read-out at the specific location, and farmers can see precisely how much water their plants use and where their fertilizer goes.
Combining soil moisture sensors with irrigation gauges has shown to be very recommendable. While the soil moisture sensor shows the water content in the ground, the irrigation gauge controls the quantities applied, and thus helps to determine the efficiency of the whole irrigation system, assists in locating clogged filters and drippers, under-pressurized distribution systems, or leaking pipes.