Soil moisture sensors are effective tools for irrigation management. These sensors can provide insight into the status of soil water in the root zone and serve as an indicator of when and how much irrigation water to apply. However, growers are often unsure of how this technology could benefit their operation and do not know where to start.
In 2022, Delta Farmers Institute is demonstrating a selection of soil moisture sensors. In addition to volumetric soil moisture content, some of these sensors also measure soil salinity.
Support for the project comes from the governments of Canada and British Columbia under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. Funding is administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.
The soil moisture sensors were chosen based on the following general criteria:
- Affordability – A complete monitoring system should not exceed roughly $1,000
- Communications – The system must be capable of automatically sending data (must not require manual download)
- Ease-of-use – System should be relatively straightforward to install and operate
- Availability – Certain items can be difficult to source. The components needed to be available for the project.
Based on the above criteria, the following soil moisture monitoring systems were selected:
- GroPoint Profile Probe Multi-level moisture probe (4 depths)
- GroPoint Pro Moisture & Salinity Sensor (1 depth)
- METER TEROS 12 Moisture & Salinity Sensor (3 depths)
Two sites were chosen. Both fields are in potatoes and are irrigated using travelling guns. The West site is on Westham Island and is the location of the 2022 Potato Variety Trials. The East site is off 96 Street, South of Highway 99.
In addition to the soil moisture sensors, an automated tipping bucket rain gauge was also installed at each site. These gauges record both rainfall and irrigation The rainfall/irrigation values have been superimposed over the soil moisture data.