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Soil moisture monitoring for better irrigation and crop nutrition While soil moisture monitoring is often thought of as a water-saving technology, it also provides other significant benefits — for example, better crop irrigation and nutrition. Crop nutrition is intrinsically linked to crop irrigation. Many nutrients move quickly with water or only move through plants when water is available. Nitrogen is released in water and too much irrigation can result in nitrogen leaching, causing low soil nitrogen and 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. Looking at concentrations of nutrient

and timing, based on the measurements

in isolation does not showing how the

from wildeye, can ensure that water (and

water availability is potentially affecting

therefore nutrients) is always available

availability of the plant to access those

for good growth.

nutrients. Monitoring soil moisture

Using wildeye highlighted the need to

continuously, and comparing the water

monitor irrigation and proved useful for

availability to the nutrient testing, adds

growers Bao Duy and Bao La Nguyen of

significant value to any testing.

Sun City Produce. The brothers have two

wildeye soil moisture monitoring

wildeye units installed, monitoring irrigation

is a simple soil moisture solution that

of cucumbers in two different soil types

continuously monitors the moisture

at their farm near Geraldton.

reduce drainage in the lower profile. The lighter sandy soil 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. Consequently, the plants recovered from looking yellow and became greener. This was a result of less drainage,

in soil. Measurements taken every 15

The product showed that a sandy

min are reported daily to the web, so

loam soil holds soil moisture as high as

growers can make sure that the irrigation

21% before draining and only requires

they applied kept up with the crops’

once-a-day irrigation. This information

Outpost Central

demands. Fine-tuning irrigation depth

suggests that slightly less water would

www.outpostcentral.com

24 Sustainability Matters - Oct/Nov 2016

allowing nutrients to be retained where the plants can access them.

www.SustainabilityMatters.net.au

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Sustainability Matters Oct/Nov 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Oct/Nov 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...