Soil moisture sensor network in the medium/low rainfall environment in the Northern Wimmera

Woorak Community and Land Management Group

  • Project code: PRO-015271

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Thursday, May 20, 2021

  • Project completion date: Monday, May 30, 2022

  • National Priority: AFI - AgriFood Innovation


In the last 2 decades there have been large variations in traditional seasonal conditions, influenced by climate change, that the farmer group around Woorak have been struggling to fully understand and manage. There have been periods of extended dry times which pose large challenges to farms maintaining break even production and protect the environment by minimising bare soil.
There have also been opportunities with unseasonable storm events that have been intense and out of the traditional growing season but they can deposit large amount of moisture deep in the soil profile and are providing significant contribution to the winter crops, particularly in spring when the crops are able utilize this moisture if the rainfall falls
short. To manage challenging springs that are dry, the farmers in the district have also implemented hay into the crop rotations as a risk management strategy. This has produced not only a quality fodder product but also this act of cutting crops in late September conserve moisture that a traditional grain crop would use in October. The benefits of this extra moisture that the following crop may have is difficult to estimate without a deep soil moisture sensor.
Project activities include
Identification of key relevant soil types in district to best position monitoring sites, attempting to get the greatest coverage of soils that local farmers can relate to and understand. Best to monitor soil types that farmers in the district grow their crops in and this will be done in early May before the monitoring points are commissioned.
Identifying monitoring point hosts and establishing contractual arrangements with roles and responsibilities of each party.
Establishing quotes for equipment (service providers have already been sounded out and Agbyte has been identified as a supplier of quality monitoring equipment with excellent service support-during and after installation) – May
Organise purchase order and purchasing equipment-May
Commissioning soil moisture probe sites and linked to weather stations to record rain and impact precipitation has with infiltration and establishing the effective communication to data server. (May/June for installation prior to crop sown or soon after to reduce impacts to crop 2021). Once installed, information dash board display finalised and web page links distributed to all landcare members. Media coverage initiated at this point to acknowledge funding from Agrifutures and highlight the benefits to the community and support from the local community and landcare network.
Training session of soil moisture interpretation of data with key speakers from Agbyte and Agriculture Victoria at the Woorak Hall. Woorak community only has a hall and CFA shed so as an ideal central meeting point, attendance will be guaranteed. Survey questionnaire to be completed at the meeting that will establish current knowledge of soil moisture monitoring prior to and after the workshop. July.
Crop walk in the district which is a traditional event and in August, this is likely to be the last opportunity for moisture build up before crop maturity increases water demand and generally sees the depletion of water resources in Spring. Inspection of the soil types being monitored with the use of coring tubes that produces a metre long section of soil that
can highlight were moisture is present or absent and also the roots visible from the 2021 crop. Examining the weather sensors components and highlighting the way they work and
maintenance schedule. Last chance for crop inputs to be applied so group discussion on analysis of season and requirements for further spending based on yield potentials. August
Newsletter production of update of measured seasonal conditions from the probe and promotion of the weather station that can be used for monitoring humidity levels for hay baling. Conduct yield estimates based on p


AgriFood Innovation

Research Organisation

Woorak Community and Land Management Group