Soil moisture monitoring for better irrigation and crop nutrition in Cucumbers

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Soil moisture monitoring for better irrigation and crop nutrition in Cucumbers

2018-02-27T00:39:18+00:00 August 25th, 2016|Case Studies, Soil Moisture|

Soil moisture monitoring is often thought of as a water saving technology. While this is true, there are other significant benefits from soil moisture monitoring.

Crop nutrition is intrinsically linked to crop irrigation. Many nutrients move quickly with water or only move through plants when water is available.

Nitrogen (N) is released in water and too much irrigation can result in nitrogen leaching, causing low soil N poor plant growth.

Testing only the nutrient content of a plant or soil in isolation may give you the answer as to why a plant is expressing a symptom, but not necessarily the contributing factors that led to the issue developing in the first place.

Monitoring soil moisture continuously and comparing the water availability to the nutrient testing results adds significant value to any testing. Looking at concentrations of nutrient in isolation does not showing how the water availability is potentially affecting availability of the plant to access those nutrients.

A classic example is application of calcium for tip burn. Calcium moves through a plant’s xylem ( the arteries). When taken in through the roots, calcium only moves upwards, unable to be “translocated” within a plant.

An abundance of calcium in the soil is only available to the plant if there is soil water available for the plant to extract when a plant is using water for photosynthesis and respiration.

Soil moisture monitoring in cucumbers

Installation in Cucumbers at Suncity Produce

Wildeye soil moisture monitoring is an affordable and simple soil moisture solution that continuously monitors the moisture in your soil. Measurements taken every 15 minutes are reported daily to the web, so growers can make sure that the irrigation they applied kept up with the crops demand. Fine tuning your irrigation depth and timing, based on the measurements from wildeye, can insure that water (and therefore nutrients) are always available for good growth.

Good agronomists will always suggest growers use soil moisture monitoring so they have access to the information required to make better decisions. Terry Friemond, an agronomist at Soilzone Solutes, says ‘having soil moisture data gives a far clearer picture and adds immense value to other testing being done’.

Using wildeye has highlighted the need to monitor irrigation and has proven extremely useful for growers Bao Duy and Bao La Nguyen, of Sun City Produce. The brothers have two wildeye installed, monitoring irrigation of cucumbers in two different soil types at their farm near Geraldton. Wildeye has shown that a sandy loam soil, (Figure 1), holds soil moisture as high as 21% before draining and only requires once a day irrigation. The information from the wildeye suggest that slightly less water would reduce drainage in the lower profile.
Figure 1

Figure 1. Wildeye soil moisture trace of cucumbers on a sandy loam

 

figure 2

Figure 2. Wildeye soil moisture trace of cucumbers on a course sand

The lighter sandy soil (Figure 2) required more frequent, shallow irrigation, because of lack of water holding capacity. Moisture greater than 12% drains through the profile taking nutrient away from the crop’s root zone.

The red line, on each graph, represents the deepest probe and is placed below the active root zone to measure drainage. On the left side of graph 2, this line was quickly rising and falling indicating large volumes of drainage. Through observation and changing irrigation volumes and timing, the red line became less reactive, indicating lower drainage. Consequently, Bao commented that the plants recovered from looking yellow and became more green. This was a result of less drainage allowing nutrients to be retained where the plants can access them. For information,  register for a demo account.