Maximising the value of irrigation through improved use of soil resources and sensor technology


  • John J. Drewry Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research
  • Carolyn B. Hedley
  • Jagath Ekanayake



This paper presents a case-study approach focussing on variability of soils, soil physical properties, and how the use of proximal sensor surveys and soil moisture monitoring can be used to improve irrigation management at fine spatial scales (<10 m). Proximal sensor survey data have been used to map soil variability and statistically derive management zones, which are then correlated with S-map siblings using soil moisture release curves. At the first case study site, soil moisture monitoring of these management zones showed the poorly drained soil had wetter conditions than the other zones, which is likely to have been a factor contributing to reduced barley yield. Less irrigation could therefore have been applied to the poorly drained soil, with a saving in cost and yield penalty. In the second case study, we provide an overview of research focussing on practical applications of near real-time soil moisture monitoring and visualisation through smart phone apps, enabling new irrigation software and hardware to be matched to specific farm circumstances, so soils and crops can be managed to reduce water and nutrient losses.


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Vol 81 (2019)