How many soil moisture units will I need for my farm?

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How many soil moisture units will I need for my farm?

2018-02-27T00:39:12+00:00 May 8th, 2016|Soil Moisture, Uncategorised|

A frequently asked questions by farmers is, how many units will I need per acre or hectare?

Wildeye in table grapes

Wildeye in table grapes

Soil moisture monitoring is a tool to assist with fine tuning irrigation scheduling.  The greater the number of locations measured,  the greater the resolution the data gathered will provide. If you are measuring one area and making irrigation decisions for your whole farm you should consider the following questions:

1. Is your soil type consistent throughout your farm?
2. How many irrigation shifts are used on your farm, and do they all apply water evenly at the same rate?
3. Do you grow many different crops?  Is all of each crop at the same growth stage?
4. Do you have different varieties that have different vigor or harvest periods?

All of these factors will influence the efficiency and effectiveness of irrigation throughout your farm.  For example, soil moisture data collected in an overhead irrigated lettuce crop on a sandy area probably isn’t going to be very useful in managing a drip-irrigated tomato crop on a clay-loam area.

Consideration of soil type, irrigation system and performance, together with crop type will help determine the number  of locations you may need  to monitor on your farm. Alternatively, this type of assessment will help determine the relevance of using soil moisture data from one location to schedule another on your farm.

In addition to fine tuning irrigation, soil moisture monitoring reported automatically to the web gives the user access pretty much anywhere.  Monitoring your farm this way offers great visibility to identify faulty equipment or operator error so it can be remedied before permanent damage occurs.  Therefore, as a starting point to monitor a whole farm, it is reasonable to place a device in each irrigation shift.

Because of the variables involved there is no rule of thumb for the number of wildeyes per area, as this will be unique for each farm and situation.  However, the recurring finding is that using soil moisture monitoring to assist informed irrigation scheduling through tools like wildeye, is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to improve yield and/or lower inputs like power, fertilizer and water and therefore improve farm profitability.