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Whatever method you choose for tracking the water


status of your crop or soil, you will need to know the trigger point that indicates it’s time to irrigate.


Probes buried at different depths measure soil moisture information. Photo credit: USDA


Whatever method you choose (and there are advantages to choosing more than one), think about the learning curve for any new equipment or strategy, your time commitment and the ease of accessing any data that you are collecting and recording.


Choose a data recording system you can realistically use for the entire growing season.


Many of us used to track the money in our checking account by hand, writing down all the information from each check on a separate ledger. You have probably moved on to a simpler, more accurate electronic method of tracking your checking account. You can upgrade to something similar for irrigation; consider using one of the available online tools to track the soil water in your field.


At the very least, you will need to note how much water you applied each time you irrigate. Remember that this task is likely to be required when you are very busy, so if you plan on daily data entries, know what you are committing to.


12 Irrigation TODAY | April 2019


Determine the trigger point to start an irrigation (and make it simple).


When determining irrigation scheduling, a grower needs to know when to turn on the irrigation system, as well as how long it needs to run. Whatever method you choose for tracking the water status of your crop or soil, you will need to know the trigger point that indicates it’s time to irrigate.


Your monitoring will tell you what the soil water status is, but you can make it easier on yourself by determining ahead of time the plant or soil water status that signals that it’s time to turn on the irrigation system and for how long.


Make sure you can use the data you collect to answer these questions with minimum fuss. When it’s irrigation season, you will be busy, and your time is highly valuable. Struggling to collect and interpret data is probably not where you want to spend your time during this busy season.


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