Keeping a close eye on soil water content in individual fields can help optimize irrigation efficiency. This article explores how to use research-based trigger points for various soil types using soil water content-based sensors or soil matric potential-based sensors. Nebraska research has shown that having 25% more water than needed in the maize root-zone reduced grain yields as much as 15 bu/ac.
A UNL study of sensor-based and model-informed fertigation treatments confirms that sensor fertigation treatments are consistently the most profitable and efficient methods of applying N compared to current best management practices (BMPs).
A fall nitrogen application has a relatively high loss potential and is considered the riskiest N management practice. Consider breaking tradition and splitting your N applications next year to coincide with when your corn most needs more N.
As you finish planting, consider installing ETgages and soil moisture sensors before crop roots interfere. Then join the hundreds of farmers contributing their data each week to the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, a valuable tool for managing your crop.
Soil moisture sensors installed now can provide valuable information for dryland producers who want to determine existing soil moisture level and adjust cropping or planting plans accordingly. The authors installed and will be monitoring soil moisture readings at six sites in south central Nebraska.