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Murray Dairy is working with dairy farmers across the southern Riverina to trial soil moisture monitoring technology to assist in the management of summer crops.

About

This partnership project, between Murray Local Land Services and Murray Dairy, will explore the use of soil moisture monitoring tools for improved on-farm management decisions relating to summer crops.

Soil moisture monitoring data can show the movement of water through the soil profile to inform soil and agronomic management and assist in irrigation scheduling.

The project will compare real time soil monitoring tools over three sites in the southern Riverina. Probes have been installed in bays that include lucerne under flood irrigation (grazed), maize under flood irrigation (ungrazed) and maize under pivot (ungrazed).

 

Murray Local Land Service and Murray Dairy will offer extension activities to share project learnings and reflections from project participants. This will include training in the use and application of soil moisture monitoring technologies. 

Project Outcomes

Farmers and service providers will gain an improved understanding of:

  • Soil moisture monitoring instruments and technology: how the technology works, how the data can be interpreted and how it can assist to inform agronomic management and irrigation decisions.
  • Soil profile, such as moisture levels and soil temperature.
  • Crop development including root depth, rate of water use and response to irrigation and rain events.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of using a full capacitance probe and their ability to measure soil moisture at increments (usually 10cm) down the soil profile to depth of 0.8cm to 1.2 cm, for local soil conditions.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of using sensors to measure soil water tension and soil water status.  
  • Information and resources available to improve water use and productivity into the future.

Opportunities

The role and function of soil moisture and temperature probes are yet to be fully exploited in irrigated cropping systems within the Murray Dairy Riverina area. Farmers are thirsty for reliable and relevant information to optimise efficiencies with well-informed irrigation scheduling across different soil and crop types. After the pilot is completed and reviewed, is envisaged that this project will provide scope to explore other technologies in the area. 

Additional Resources

Southern Soil Moisture Network

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