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 weather monitoring stations located in three representative pasture paddocks (Flaxman Valley, Keyneton, Koonunga), which was the first time a farming systems group in Australia has demonstrated soil moisture monitoring in pastures.
In 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, wind direction, NDVI and solar radiation. 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.
The ‘live data’ from BIGG’s Flaxman Valley, Keyneton, Koonunga and Moculta weather stations can be viewed at:
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 modelling, including field validation of the tool is required before it can be publicaly 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.
- 4 October 2017
- 30 October 2017
- 24 November 2017
- 15 December 2017
- 28 May 2018
- 2 July 2018
- 29 May 2019
- 27 June 2019
- BIGG Farmer Case Study, Graham Keynes – July 2019
- BIGG Farmer Case Study, Michael Evans – July 2019
- BIGG Farmer Case Study, Peter Kleinig – July 2019
- Project Survey Report: the use and application of data being recorded from BIGG’s weather monitoring stations – July 2019
- Project Case study (Measuring soil moisture leads to better pasture) – Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, July 2018
- Australian Society of Animal Production Conference: Soil moisture monitoring in grazing systems assists decision making- Paper and Poster, July 2016
Soil moisture presentations at BIGG’s Annual Conference – February 2018
- Soil moisture monitoring for pastures – Peter Toome, TOIP Pty Ltd
- BIGG’s Soil moisture monitoring in grazing systems project: Lessons learnt – Brett Nietschke, BIGG
- The use of moisture probes and PA pastures at Branson Farms – Mark Branson, Farmer (Stockport)
Presentations at BIGG’s soil moisture monitoring workshop – April 2014
- Soil moisture monitoring and water use efficiency – Peter Toome, TOIP Pty Ltd
- Soil moisture probes in dryland cropping systems– Tony Craddock, Rural Directions
- Does water = profit– Callum March, Farmer (Balaklava)
- Soil moisture monitoring in vineyards– Adam Pietsch, Farmer Johns
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.