Wednesday, 18 October 2023 10:55

Moisture probes on display

Written by  Staff Reporters
Moisture probes are a valuable tool for managing the timing and application rate of irrigation. Moisture probes are a valuable tool for managing the timing and application rate of irrigation.

Farmers can follow and compare the readings of different soil moisture probes following the installation of a demonstration site at the Foundation for Arable Research's Kowhai Farm at Lincoln.

FAR technology Chris Smith says that the project aims to look at the various soil moisture monitoring services commercially available to arable growers.

Nine different providers are represented. Growers are invited to log in to any of the providers' portals to check out what moisture probe readings look like on the companies' software platform.

"By familiarising yourself with each one, you will see how easy it is to understand the information that is used to make management decisions."

Moisture probes are a valuable tool for managing the timing and application rate of irrigation, particularly at critical growth stages of a crop's development, Smith says.

Multi-level probes add an additional benefit for monitoring the movement and penetration of moisture in the root zone after a rain or irrigation event.

Growers are encouraged to use moisture probes as part of their best practice for the irrigation audit process.

"This is so they have evidence to justify application rates or timings and prove that they are not creating potential leaching issues from over-applying, as they can illustrate they are keeping the moisture within the root zone."

Most probes also monitor soil temperature, which is useful at the shoulders of the season to make sure any irrigation events don't cool down soils too much. Both temperature and moisture are also critical measurements for fertiliser applications or planting timings.

Probes can be calibrated, but it is important to realise most show a trend in a farm's soil, getting proportionally drier or wetter in the root zone or at different depths within the soil profile, Smith says.

"It is arguably of greater value to have the field capacity and stress point for that specific probe set up correctly, taking into consideration the soil type, crop type and adjuste for growth stage (root zone depth).

"That is why moisture probes should be installed by the providers, adjusting the graphs once the probe has bedded in and had a decent weather event. This is also the reason it is bes to install them in winter, when setting these parameters is much easier, because of the opportunities to reach field capacity."

The season's results will be reviewed in June each year.

Farmers can access the moisture probe providers' portal and logins on the FAR website at https://www.far.org.nz/research/research-resources/moisture-probe-trial-at-kowhai.

The providers are: Agri Water Service, Crop X, Halo Systems, OnFarm Data, Harvest Electronics, PGG Water, Primary Insight, Valley and Vantage NZ.

More like this

High level of herbicide resistance

A five-year randomised survey of herbicide resistance on New Zealand arable farms has found widespread high levels of resistance - with 71% of farms affected in the worst-hit region - South Canterbury.

'Building resilience key to success'

To survive and thrive in this changing world, New Zealand farmers must take a new look at what resilience means to them and their farming operations, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

AI to transform precision ag

Artificial intelligence will assist farmers to interpret the huge amounts of data generated using precision agriculture, says a US expert who will speak at a Hamilton maize conference this month.

Featured

Editorial: Fonterra's U-turn

OPINION: Speaking at the Chinese Business Summit in Auckland last week, Fonterra chief exuecutive Miles Hurrell revealed that his phone was running hot over the weekend.

A winner's view

Kingi Smiler, the chair of Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani (WMI), said after winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy he was both elated and relieved and added it was a tough competition being up against Whakatohera Māori Board.

Farm 4 is number one!

A dairy farm near the settlement of Mangakino has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori dairy farm for 2024.

National

A good start

The final Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction for the 2023-24 season augurs well the forecast milk price for the new…

Labour eyes rural votes

Labour Party agriculture spokesperson Jo Luxton is on a mission to win back rural sector votes.

Machinery & Products

Tractor, harvester IT comes of age

Over the last halfdecade, digital technology has appeared to be the “must-have” for tractor and machinery companies, who believe that…

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Well done Kotahi!

OPINION: Fonterra's decision to join forces with other primary sector exporters and launch a supply chain collaboration, Kotahi, is paying…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter