Dryland Soil Moisture Probe and Weather Station Pilot Project

A project identified through the PIRSA 2015 Premium Food and Wine Co-Innovation cluster program and the MFMG: “Cropping – Collaboration across the Limestone Coast to enhance innovation and profitability”

The Dryland Soil Moisture Probe and Weather Station Pilot Project conducted by Mackillop Farm Management Group (MFMG) will assist the grain & livestock sector in lifting production and improving grain & livestock quality to meet the growing food demand. Increasing targeted inputs and improving management will be achieved by educating industry to understand soil and water interaction, as well as factoring in forecasted seasonal predictions.

The aim of this project is to improve soil moisture probe technology adoption in dryland agricultural operations within the South East of South Australia.

The pilot project, to be run over a two year period, is to help farmers in the mid to lower South East of South Australia to gain a better understanding of the tools available to assist with the decision making processes in relation to crop & pasture selection, nitrogen application and other variables within dryland cropping & livestock enterprises.

There will be three sites at the MFMG trial sites located at Frances, Conmurra and Millicent. Educational information will be provided to farmers on what the moisture probe and weather station data is telling them. This will help to identify the decisions they should be making from the information gained from the data.

Monitoring the sites for two years with soil moisture probes that record absolute soil water content will build knowledge of crop upper and lower limits under different soil and crop types. Measuring soil moisture will help provide an indication of:

  • Yield potential based on plant available water
  • Crop water use
  • Sub soil moisture base and reserves
  • Rainfall required to refill soil profile
  • Water infiltration
  • Water logging
  • Water use of different crops

Project Manager Tim Powell from Integrated Irrigation will provide updates on the information gathered and says “Decisions such as the size and timing of a mid crop fertilizer application is one that heavily affects the profitability of growing crops. Information from soil moisture probes and weather stations are routinely used in this type of cropping decision in other parts of Australia. This project will investigate and show the benefits of using this information in cropping decisions in a way that is relevant to farming with our local conditions.”

There will be regular updates in the weekly email and on the MFMG website to keep you informed on the trial sites and the information gathered over the course of the project.

Tim Powell, Integrated Irrigation is contracted to delivery this project with funding provided through PIRSA/MFMG Cropping Cluster, SARDI and Natural Resources SE (through Landcare Programme)
Project dates: 1st April 2016 – 30th March 2018