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Improving irrigation with FullStop

Tomatoes and Silverbeet

Knowing how deep a wetting front moves into the soil is critical for irrigation management. If a crop is given frequent but light sprinklings of water, the wetting front will not go deep and the shallow detector will not be activated. Much of the water will evaporate from the soil surface.

If too much water is applied at one time, the wetting front will go deep into the soil, perhaps below the rooting depth of the crop. Apart from being a waste of water, over-irrigation washes some soil nutrients out of the soil and contributes to salinisation.

Dry soil can absorb a lot of water, so the wetting front may not go all that deep if the soil starts dry, even with a heavy irrigation. However, if the soil is already wet, a light irrigation can penetrate deeply into the soil. This is because wet soil cannot absorb much extra water, so any irrigation water just keeps moving downwards. You can build up a picture of how deep the wetting front is penetrating by watching the response of the shallow and deep FullStops after each irrigation.

The FullStop Wetting Front Detector captures a small water sample from each passing front. By measuring the electrical conductivity of this water and its nitrate concentration, crop nutrient and salt management can be greatly improved.

Knowing how deep irrigation water moves in the soil, and the nutrients and salts carried in this water, can revolutionise irrigation management.

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