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  • Writer's pictureLiebe Group

Seeing into Soils with the Liebe Group's Newest Project

Farmers in the northern wheatbelt are managing increasing climatic risks and are seeking new tools that can improve in-season crop management and planning decisions.

Soil moisture probe technology has been utilised extensively in viticulture and horticulture since the mid-1990s, however it has only been within the last ten years that broadacre agriculture has begun to adopt these practices.

Alongside recent advances in connectivity and various other capabilities, the implementation of ‘networks’ of moisture probes and weather stations can provide significant insight into the management of natural resources.

The Liebe Group has received funding through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants Program to implement an integrated network of soil moisture probes and weather stations.

This project will act as a ‘pilot’ to test the technology in our region and provide an extension platform to engage growers, increase awareness and build knowledge about how this technology could add value to farm businesses.

Fourteen Liebe Group members are actively participating in the network which has seen the successful set up of moisture probe and weather stations across the region. Whilst the equipment is in place, work is currently being done behind the scenes to calibrate the data and set up the interactive dashboard prior to public release.

By evaluating real-time data, farmers can understand the implications of management decisions and gain confidence for future decisions. It can help evaluate resource management practices such as implementing strategic fallow on heavy country, deep ripping, amelioration of non-wetting soils and applying lime.

Through increased understanding and adoption of these technologies within the region, growers will be able to better manage their water-use efficiency for improved productivity, profitability and long-term environmental sustainability.

Significant data can be captured through these systems including plant and soil available moisture and depth, where plant roots are active, and how much water is available for a crop. Understanding these factors will assist growers to improve their knowledge of crop water use efficiency (WUE) including how different soil types and different crops use available moisture, and the analysis of decisions made at a grower-level.

An interactive workshop and other various extension activities will be held over the course of this season. For more information about this project please contact the Liebe Group via 08 9661 1907 or email Executive Officer Katrina Venticinque


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