Soil moisture is critical
For maximum growth, plants need appropriate soil moisture at the correct depth for each species’ root system. Surface soil moisture levels can be very different from moisture levels below. Dales Land Net understands this and designed the DLN Soil Monitor to provide soil moisture data in 12cm increments down to 50cm below the surface. Importantly, the unit also provides soil temperature readings every 10cm.
It is also clear that soil moisture is a critical parameter for prediction of the risks from pests and diseases in reducing crop yields. Automated real-time measurement of soil moisture over large areas of flood catchment land, which is then linked to rainfall data and flood models, will significantly improve prediction of risks.
Currently, assessing soil moisture is difficult and expensive. Several methods are used:
• Readings based on a combination of statistics and manual borehole sampling is labour intensive and expensive (approx. £500/day for 4-5 site visits).
• Most unmanned environmental sensors require wired connectivity to a base station for remote communication, which limits the deployments to small sites or managed areas.
• Some wireless sensors are available with remote connectivity, but they are also expensive (£500-£1500), not counting the additional costs for uplink connectivity.
Consequently, up until now these costs have been prohibitive for large deployments of sensors for wide landscape monitoring.
Soil Temperature is Critical Also
Seed germination is dependent on soil temperature. In the Spring, farmers want to plant as early as possible, but their schedule is dictated by the soil temperature. In addition, the optimum times to apply fertiliser and certain herbicides is dictated by the temperature of the soil.
The DLN Soil Monitor & Data Network provide inexpensive, real-time soil moisture & temperature information for better decision making.