Take Time to Set Up Nebraska Ag Water Management Equipment

Take Time to Set Up Nebraska Ag Water Management Equipment

As planting progresses across the state, we hope you will take time to set up your ETgage for the growing season and install soil water sensors. While it is a busy time of year, taking time now for installations will be beneficial and lead to better water management decisions during the irrigation season.

For those of you with an ETgage®, it’s not a bad idea to watch the assembly video for a refresher on how to set it up.  Be sure to use distilled water and watch for air bubbles (Figure 1). Also, it is best to replace the green canvas covers and white wafers that cover the ceramic top on an annual or every-other-year basis to ensure accurate readings. If you need help setting up your ETgage, be sure to contact one of us.

NAWMN Thank you
Figure 1. Setting up ETgage for the season.

Once you have your ETgage out in the field, we would love to have more cooperators post their weekly readings to the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN) website. While we understand summer is a busy time of year, taking a couple minutes each week to post the ETgage readings helps make reading the ETgage a habit and will benefit the network as a whole. Regular postings also will help you gain trust in the readings when you see other sites with similar evapotranspiration values. But, readings may not be always similar, even within several miles in radius as ET is impacted locally by various climatic and micro-climatic variables. Thus, having an ETgage near your individual production fields can provide more accurate local crop water use data.

If it’s been a while since you signed on or if you have never participated before, you can simply navigate to the site at https://nawmn.unl.edu. On the main screen (Figure 2) you can log in to your existing site by entering your site name and password and clicking on “Login,” or if you are a new cooperator, click on the “Register New Site” link on the main screen and fill in the required information. If you’ve forgotten your site name or password, please contact Aaron Nygren at anygren2@unl.edu or 402-352-3821. He can also help if you need assistance in changing the location of your ETgage on the Google™ map or if you need to change the day of week that you take readings.

Once you have logged in, you will be taken to your weekly data from past weeks, including last year. To enter your weekly data, look for the “My Site” link on the top red ribbon and hover over it with your cursor to see a “Manage ETgage Data” link. After clicking on this link you will see an “Add new ETgage reading” link that will take you to the data entry page. Here you can enter crop growth stage, rainfall, and ETgage change.

When you view weekly ET data on the website, remember that sites with up-to-date data are either red for alfalfa covers or dark green for grass covers. Inactive sites are grey for alfalfa covers or light green for grass covers. Blue sites are High Plains Regional Climate Center automated weather data network stations.

Figure 2. NAWMN Online ETgage website.

Soil Moisture Sensors

In addition to ETgages, it is also time to install soil moisture sensors. Early installation is key to making sure that roots aren’t damaged during installation and sensors are reading actual soil water conditions. Early installation also enables roots to develop around the soil moisture sensors which results in better representation of the soil water conditions around the plant roots.

For more information about ETgages and soil moisture sensors, please check the NAWMN website. For specific information about ETgages and soil moisture sensors as well as related publications, see: https://water.unl.edu/article/nebraska-agricultural-water-management-network-nawmn/extension-publications

Thank you for all your contributions to the Network.

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