Liebe Group delves into soil moisture technology – Farm Weekly

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FARMERS in the northern Wheatbelt are managing increasing climatic risks and are seeking new tools that can improve in-season crop management and planning decisions.

Soil moisture probe technology has been utilised extensively in viticulture and horticulture since the mid-1990s but it has only been within the past 10 years that broadacre agriculture has begun to adopt these practices.

Alongside recent advances in connectivity and various other capabilities, the implementation of networks of moisture probes and weather stations can provide significant insight into the management of natural resources.

The Liebe Group has received funding through the Australian government’s National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants Program to implement an integrated network of soil moisture probes and weather stations.

This project will act as a pilot to test the technology in the region and provide an extension platform to engage growers, increase awareness and build knowledge about how this technology could add value to farm businesses.

Fourteen Liebe Group members are actively participating in the network, which has seen the successful set up of moisture probe and weather stations across the region.

While the equipment is in place, work is being done behind the scenes to calibrate the data and set up the interactive dashboard prior to public release.

By evaluating real-time data, farmers can understand the implications of management decisions and gain confidence for future decisions.

It can help evaluate resource management practices such as implementing strategic fallow on heavy country, deep ripping, amelioration of non-wetting soils and applying lime.

Through increased understanding and adoption of these technologies within the region, growers will be able to better manage their water-use efficiency for improved productivity, profitability and long-term environmental sustainability.

A map highlighting the strategic locations of the sites throughout the Liebe Group region.

A map highlighting the strategic locations of the sites throughout the Liebe Group region.

Significant data can be captured through these systems including plant and soil available moisture and depth, where plant roots are active and how much water is available for a crop.

Understanding these factors will assist growers to improve their knowledge of crop water use efficiency, including how different soil types and different crops use available moisture and the analysis of decisions made at a grower-level.

An interactive workshop and other various extension activities will be held over the course of this season.

  • More information: contact the Liebe Group on 9661 1907 or email executive officer Katrina Venticinque eo@liebegroup.org.au

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