Pre-plant soil moisture survey under way
Personnel are now in the field gathering data for the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District's annual pre-plant soil moisture survey.
Data collection began Jan. 16 and should be concluded in three to four weeks, weather permitting.
"Knowing the amount of soil moisture in the five-foot root zone soil profile has always been important to producers--but it is even more important this year as they look at how water used for pre-plant irrigation affects their Allowable (groundwater) Production Rate per contiguous acre," said Manager Jim Conkwright.
Meters are used to gather soil moisture data at about 100 permanently-installed monitoring sites within the district's 16-county service area.
Readings are taken at 6-inch intervals throughout the 5-foot root zone soil profile by lowering a probe into an aluminum access tube at the site. These data are later processed to calculate the amount of moisture in the soil (available moisture) and the amount of moisture the soil can still hold for plant use (deficit moisture).
Maps are constructed showing the location of soil moisture monitoring sites within the district and the crop type, irrigation application method, and amount of soil moisture in the upper three feet and upper five feet of the soil at each site.
"This information gives producers an idea of soil moisture trends in their area and they can then make pre-plant irrigation decisions based upon this information as well as their own on-farm soil moisture tests," said Field Data Coordinator Gerald Crenwelge.
The High Plains Water District provides soil moisture information to assist producers with management decisions for the upcoming growing season. Results of the 2012 pre-plant soil moisture survey will be provided to news media and published in The Cross Section.
Additional information about the annual pre-plant soil moisture survey is available by calling the Water District office at 806-762-0181 or at www.hpwd.com/programs/MoistureSurvey.asp.