17 July 1998

Cut water waste

ATENSIOMETER being developed by Independent Agriculture could help growers irrigate more accurately.

Placed in the ground, the tensiometer records times when dry soil starts to suck water from its porous pot. Combined with a soil analysis to assess water holding capability, the soil moisture deficit can be calculated easily so the need for irrigation can be determined.

"Everyone who has tried this has used less irrigation," said Barrie Florendine, IAs national potato specialist.

He also showed how the Solomon Minimet can be used as an on-farm blight monitor. It records the number of hours when the temperature is over 10C and humidity over 90% – conditions conducive to blight.

Pressing a button recalls the number of such hours recorded over the previous week. When the monitor shows a crop under increasing pressure, spray frequency can be increased.

Improve irrigation efficiency with Handel tensiometer-based scheduling, advises Barrie Florendine.