Ravensthorpe grower Bevan Tuckett with an instruments station being used to map different soil types for their responsiveness to nitrogen treatments and their water-holding capacity. Photo: Evan Collis Photography.
Generating information from continuously-logging soil moisture (or capacitance) probes (SMPs) is increasingly helping Western Australian grain growers in their agronomic and grain marketing decision-making.
Typically, a SMP is permanently installed and works by sensing moisture in close proximity (about a 10cm radius) to the probe, recording this information and sending it via a cable to a telemetry unit and data logger.
WA-specific information and links to resources can be found at the new Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Hot Topic Soil Moisture Probes (western region) available via this link.
For broadacre croppers, the technology provides accurate data about how much moisture is in the soil, its depth in the profile, where plant roots are active and water uptake by crops during the growing season.
Soil water is being monitored throughout WA’s grainbelt using SMPs and a range of other measuring and modelling tools.
Research in the region includes the GRDC project ‘Measuring and managing soil water’, assisted by a ‘Soil Water Champions’ panel.
The overall aim is to improve grower and adviser understanding about best applications for soil water information in farm decision-making and to assess whether current tools meet industry needs.
More than 50 SMPs have been installed in recent years across WA’s broadacre cropping areas in a range of trials supported by GRDC, CSIRO, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), advisers, grower groups and other industry stakeholders.
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
GRDC Project Code