Thursday, June 20, 2024

Water Scarcity and Use of Soil Moisture Sensors

Authors; Engr. Haseeb Ahsan1, Dr. Mujahid Ali2

(1On Farm Water Management, 2WMRF Renala Khurd)

Enhancement of water productivity in agriculture is a challenge in changing climatic conditions. The scarcity of water for agriculture is becoming a global concern. Water management is vital to manage the available water. Available water must be utilized in a proper amount. The vitality of a High-Efficiency Irrigation System (HEIS) demands measuring the soil moisture level.

Irrigation schedules can only be possible by using soil moisture sensors. When, how, and how much to apply water is of utmost importance for better yield in agriculture. Maintaining field capacity in different types of soil is only possible by soil moisture sensors. Various types of soil moisture sensors are utilized under various circumstances depending on the place, financial conditions of farmers/researchers, types of soil, crop, and moisture level in the soil.  IT and ICT-based devices are available in markets for this purpose.EnviroSCAN, a handy moisture meter, chameleon Wi-Fi reader, wetting front detector/full stop moisture meters.

A Handy Moisture Meter is small and a portable device that can be used by taking various soil moisture conditions from various places to ensure accuracy. It shows its reading digitally on a small screen attached to it. It is cheap and economical for small landholders. An advanced device is EnviroSCAN provides real-time soil moisture levels on smart phones or on any laptop connected to a wi-fi system/SIM. Its prob is adjusted where the root zone gets moisture from the soil. It works easily by the power generated through a small solar plate installed on it. It helps to make irrigation schedules and apply irrigation water in the proper amount. It works efficiently only if the land is leveled with a laser leveler. It can measure salinity level ad soil temperature as well. One of the drawbacks is that it is very expensive, and it cannot be moved easily from one location to another location because its probe and poles are fixed in the soil. It has also the capacity to store previous data about irrigation for years.

Wetting Front Detector/FullStop Wetting Front Detector can compute soil salinity level along with soil moisture level. Its probs are inside soil near to root zone in different depths and tell moisture level/conditions in respective depths. Its prob is adjusted to a funnel-shaped object that is buried in the root zoneThe Chameleon Wi-Fi reader is another very useful gadget that has three probes (gypsum blocks adjusted at different depths. Another useful gadget is a tensiometer that has water potential.

Different probs show results by lights fixed on its control unit at the respective level. Red light describes the soil is under urgent irrigation, Green light tells sufficient moisture/field capacity is maintained, while Blue light explains saturation of moisture. Its battery must recharge for proper working. It can extend its value on a smart phone by providing SIM. Calibration of the above-mentioned devices is needed for the exact measure of soil moisture in comparison with other moisture sensors and for changing soil type, temperature, or electric conductivity.

By the application of these soil moisture detectors, water can be applied in optimized levels in water-scarce conditions for agriculture. Now-a-day irrigation automatically is possible by combining these devices with irrigation control units.

Dr. Mujahid Ali
Dr. Mujahid Ali
I am working as Assistant Horticulturist (BS-18) at Water Management Research Farm Renala Khurd, before this served as Assistant Professor (IPFP) in Horticulture at the University of Sargodha. I have completed my Ph.D. in 2018 from the Institute of Horticultural Sciences, UAF previously worked as Visiting Lecturer in Horticulture UOS, worked as Research Fellow in ACIAR project on vegetables, and worked as Teaching Assistant in Horticulture UAF. Moreover, Ph.D. IRSIP did in the NC State University, United States.

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