What’s the value of real-time soil monitoring?
By Ryan Ridley
Attendees of the 2020 Farms.com Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase tuned in to Gill Costa’s presentation ‘Sentek Soil Moisture Monitoring’ to learn the ins and outs of soil monitoring and its implications for farmers.
Costa is Business Development Manager at Sentek Technologies, an agribusiness that designs and manufactures technology for managing the moisture, temperature, and salinity of soil.
So, where’s the value in real-time soil monitoring?
- When irrigation events must occur without causing plant stress
- How long to irrigate without wasting water, energy, and fertilizer
- Field irrigation urgency
- Determination of field capacity and onset of stress
- Prediction on the next irrigation event timeline
- Rootzone development monitoring
- Soil salinity changes
- Number of stress days from waterlogging or drought
This list also includes infiltration rates to determine irrigation run times, drainage losses below the rootzone, planting dates based on soil temperature and more.
Sentek’s soil data probes use capacitance-based technology that continually measures the soil profile. It’s patented TriSCAN sensor can distinguish between soil water content and salt content, and when paired with Sentek’s IrriMAX software, can provide farmers with a complete irrigation and fertigation management tool.
“How does Sentek differentiate itself from other players in the segment?” asks Costa.
“We have an undisturbed installation method that the soil moisture is immediately valid – you don’t have to wait for any normalizing or any equalization with the adjacent soil – as soon as you put the probe in the ground, the data is valid,” explains Costa. “The accuracy of the data, because we provide the capacitance probe and the mark with the highest frequency, the durability of our probes, and the quality of our product.”
Sentek’s soil monitoring probes are available in 30cm, 60cm, 90cm, 120cm and 150cm lengths and are fully encapsulated with a solid resin-filled core for additional strength and waterproofing.
“The unique installation process of our probes is what makes a huge difference regarding data quality,” says Costa. “The probes are all tapered to have a carrot format where you use an auger to drill a hole that’s the exact diameter of a probe. You then slide the probe into the hole with nice contact between the probe and the adjacent soil.”
Costa explains that when you disturb the adjacent soil beside the probe, you automatically alter the water holding capacity and create a condition called preferential flow.
He also discusses site selection for deploying a probe, soil temperature monitoring for planting decisions, understanding soil data and more.
To learn more about Sentek Technologies’ soil monitoring technology, watch the below video with Costa.