Soil Moisture Sensors

Many growers feel they may be underwatering at certain stages of plant growth and overwatering at other stages. The ability to collect moisture data from the root-zone soil profile enables the grower to better manage the water needs of the plant through these stages. Due to the lack of funding of AG WET projects in Southeast District, Burke and Jefferson County Extension agents were going to be limited as to how to facilitate a project that demonstrated efficient irrigation scheduling. The Jefferson County agent installed three soil moisture meters and a base station in a cotton and peanut field with a farmer cooperator. Each field was monitored using the Trellis system to schedule irrigation. Rain gauges were installed to record rain and irrigation events. Agents were responsible for using UGA recommendations per crop to determine for the growers when to irrigate. An irrigation field day was held on-farm where moisture sensors were installed. Growers from the area gained insight on installation cost, proper sensor placement, using software to manage data and past yield comparison data from AgWET projects presented by UGA specialists. At an average pumping cost of $8/acre, growers would be able to save about $212,000 by eliminating unnecessary irrigation events.