Soil Moisture Probes Network

Page last updated: Monday, 8 February 2021 - 10:11am

During 2013–2016 a network of 31 soil moisture probes was installed across the grain growing region in WA across several projects managed by DPIRD to enhance the decision-making capacity of grain growers.

All monitoring sites have been recently serviced by DPIRD and the data outputs of the probes are now publicly accessible at the link below the map and in the 'External Links' section on the right-hand side of this page.

Click here to access the soil probe network

 

Background

The soil moisture probes record soil water content at 10cm intervals from 30–100cm down the soil profile creating a reference point in a paddock.

Soil cores were taken at each site at installation and the soil particle sizes were measured. The measured soil cores are used to calibrate default software settings to the specific soil type to improve the soil moisture data. 

For these soil moisture probes the provider has applied their own calibration methods to the data.

The equipment has generally been installed along fence lines with cable installed in trenches out to the probes in the paddock.  

The shallow surface soil moisture probes (0–30cm) were not removed and reinstalled as intended so data records for them were generally only a single season and are not included.

Interpreting the Graphs

Bucket Graph Provides a value showing how full the ‘soil water bucket’ is, expressed as % of soil moisture content, with rainfall events overlayed.

Example graph showing changing soil moisture and rainfall events over time

Soil moisture gauge Illustrates the soil water content at each sensor from the plant's wilting point (crop lower limit) to above the point where the plant starts to experience water stress (refill), with a traffic light alert system. 

Traffic light display- Green = plant available moisture, Amber= moisture limiting. Red = plant under stress

Soil moisture graph by sensor Provides data for each individual soil sensor at 10cm intervals for the length of the probe

Coloured lines on graph corresponding to soil moisture at different soil depths

Soil moisture graph by moisture depth Provides aggregated data at each level showing the relative movement of moisture within the soil profile

Coloured lines on graph showing aggregated soil moisture at each depth

Decision making with soil moisture 

Soil moisture probes can assist in making better decisions around nitrogen management, risk mitigation, marketing and crop potential. They help you to find out:

  • how much water you have in your ‘soil water bucket’ at critical times;
  • how effective rainfall events have been;
  • what depth your crops are able to access moisture from;
  • whether N or moisture will be your greatest limiting factor; and
  • where subsoil constraints are stopping complete moisture drawdown (Oster, GRDC 2016).

Contact information

eConnected Grainbelt
Kari-Lee Falconer
+61 (0)8 9651 0537
Megan Abrahams
Caroline Peek