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Monitoring soil moisture in grazing systems

 

In 2013, BIGG initiated a project to monitor soil moisture in local grazing systems (funded by a Caring for Our Country Community Landcare Grant). This involved the establishment of telemetry based monitoring stations located in three representative pasture paddocks (Flaxman Valley, Keyneton and Koonunga), which was the first time a farming systems group in Australia has demonstrated soil moisture monitoring in pastures.

 

In April 2019, a fourth station located in a native pasture paddock at Moculta was installed via funding from Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges NRM Board’s ‘Supporting Sustainable Primary Production’ grant.

 

Each station comprises a sub-surface capacitance probe measuring moisture to a depth of 85cm, an automatic rain gauge and sensors measuring air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and radiation (the Moculta station also includes a sensor measuring wind direction). These are connected to a solar powered telemetry unit that transmits data every 15 minutes via a mobile phone network to an internet server. Data downloaded from the server is then used to produce real-time graphs for each site. These can be viewed at the following links:

 

Flaxman Valley

 

Keyneton

 

Koonunga

 

Moculta

 

To help understand the information and associated graphs derived from the downloaded data refer to the Fact sheet: Interpreting information from BIGG’s telemetry based monitoring stations.

 

In 2017-18, BIGG initiated the development of a web-based Pasture Modelling Tool to assist producers in determining their stocking rates through estimating local paddock grazing capacity (through funding from the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges NRM Board and South Australian Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board). The tool is ‘driven by’ the data recorded from the monitoring stations, however additional modeling, including field validation of the tool is required before it can be publically released.

 

A network of soil moisture probes are also located throughout the SA Murray-Darling Basin region. Further further information about their soil moisture status can be accessed here.

 

Monthly soil moisture monitoring reports – 2017-19

Monthly analysis on the status of the four local paddocks (located at Flaxman Valley, Keyneton, Koonunga and Moculta) being monitored for their soil moisture use.

 

Resources

 

Soil moisture presentations at BIGG’s Annual Conference – February 2018

 

Presentations at BIGG’s soil moisture monitoring workshop – April 2014

 


Disclaimer: The data generated from the BIGG soil moisture monitoring sites is provided for information only. Any actions or decisions made by users is at their sole discretion.

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