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Soil Moisture Monitoring
2023 Issue 1
In this edition:

The soil moisture monitoring project, with the use of underground probes, provides real-time soil water content data to Victoria’s farmers.

Monitoring sites have been set up in cropping regions throughout the state by Agriculture Victoria.

The sites record soil water content at one source point from 30 centimetres down to one metre as a reference point for a paddock.

Sites monitored include: Werrimul, Ouyen, Speed, Kerang, Birchip, Normanville, Lah, Bangerang, Taylors Lake, Coonooer Bridge, Raywood, Elmore, Youanmite, Hamilton, Lake Bolac, Tatyoon, and Sale.
Locations of Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring sites

To access information provided in the graphs, log onto the Agriculture Victoria soil moisture monitoring dashboard.

No login or passwords required, and speedos are automatically updated and will represent the most recent rainfall.

Weather and Soil Moisture Monitoring observations
Victorian rainfall deciles for September.

Figure 1: September rainfall deciles for Victoria

September rainfall north of the divide provided rainfall that was able to meet crop water demand with high yield potential.

October rainfall deciles

Figure 2: October rainfall percentages for Victoria

October rainfall exceeded plant/crop water requirements and caused water logging in low lying areas. Highest rainfall on record in the catchments caused flash flooding locally and downstream in flood prone areas.

November rainfall deciles

Figure 3. November rainfall deciles

November rainfall was generally above average, but the Wimmera clay soils drained slowly which caused harvest trafficability issues.

Summer rainfall deciles - December and January

Figure 4. Summer rainfall deciles - December and January

Wimmera summer rainfall (to date - 6 February) is below average and parts of the Mallee and the South West are average to below average. North Central and North East are average to above average. 

Isolated storms have given high amounts away from the official gauges at times.  Most soil moisture profiles have plenty of deep moisture and summer rain has not contributed any additional moisture.

Month to date February rainfall percentage continues the dry trend  Recent and historical rainfall maps

Speedo assessments

Soil moisture measurements collected by the Agriculture Victoria moisture probe network have shown that generally, soil moisture profiles are all higher than commonly observed at this time of the year.

Mallee paddocks are starting the season with well above average moisture conditions and have high to moderate/high deep soil water.  Wimmera, Central and North East are moderate to high if summer weeds have been controlled.

Moisture profiles in the South West are in a good position to enter the autumn period in the high rainfall zone. A de-watering strategy at Hamilton growing spring sown chick peas is different to the general district practice.

The Agriculture Victoria Fast break seasonal outlook is split between drier and neutral for Autumn, but is in a forecast period of lower skill.

Soil moisture speedos 6 February 2023

Note - use to monitor the changes to the sites relevant to you in between the next reporting period and following rain events.

Soil moisture speedo values, Werrimull 100 per cent, Ouyen 100 per cent, Normanville 100 per cent.
Speedo soil moisture graphs
Werrimull soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Werrimull Speedo, moisture currently 100%

Thirty-five per cent higher moisture levels than this time last year. Deep soil moisture is 100 per cent.

Ouyen soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Ouyen Speedo, moisture currently 100%

Ouyen summed  soil moisture graph – 2022/23 view

There was a consistent depletion of moisture during July and August last year where rainfall didn’t meet crop demands. September was wet enough to meet crop demands and October had excess water available to the barley going into grain fill and this soil moisture still exists throughout the profile.

Speed soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Speed speedo showing 100%

The Speed soil moisture monitoring site has a wet profile down to 100 centimetres (some of those zones are still saturated, above 100 per cent moisture).

Speed monitoring site showing the cross where the moisture probe is located and where barley was not havested, until 2023.

Images from Speed, 22 December where the area of the probe was monitoring hadn’t been harvested due to the wet conditions and potential bogging situation.  Soil cores were wet as indicated by the capacitance probe sensor data (see above).

Normanville soil moisture (30 - 100cm)
Normanville is 100%
Summed and separate trace soil moisture graph from Normanville.

Wet conditions at Normanville were enough to meet wheat water requirements in September and excess in October has topped up the deep soil moisture profile. Moisture profiles are 50 per cent higher than this time last summer.

Sheep Hills soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)

Off line, modem replacement planned for February.

Brim soil moisture (30 - 100 cm)
Brim soil moisture is 100%

Deep soil moisture conditions were moderate/high at shallow levels and were excellent for the wheat crop to flower and proceed through grain fill with low environmental stress.

Bangerang district - Koschitzke Rd

Off line, linked to the modem/gateway replacement planned for February at Bangerang.

Taylors Lake soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Taylors Lake speedo soil moisture currently 100%

High rainfall and high disease pressures made it challenging for faba beans growing at this site during spring. Yields were low, but the high water holding capacity soil (self mulching clay) is now wet to depth. It is 70 per cent higher than this time last year in summer.

Please follow the link to the soil moisture monitoring dashboard to obtain the most recent changes in the Wimmera at Taylors Lake.

Birchip soil moisture (30 - 100 cm)
Birchip soil moisture is 80%

Conditions ranged from 80 - 100 per cent moisture for canola flowering and pod fill last spring. Deep soil moisture conditions are excellent at 80 per cent and are at similar levels as this time last year, however, the paddock was in fallow in 2021.

North Central
Coonooer Bridge soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Coonooer Bridge soil moisture speedo at 100%.

Note - this paddock was in fallow with no crop grown last year which will traditionally build up a solid moisture profile. Additional moisture has been banked during spring and is expected to be positioned well below one metre. The soil type should permit access to this during spring for this year’s winter crop.

Raywood soil moisture monitoring site is 100%

The Raywood soil moisture monitoring site is back online and reading a full profile after the district experienced flooding last spring.

Elmore soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Elmore soil moisture speedo is 53 per cent.
Soilwater app modelled soil moisture, 60 per cent at 9 February.

Modelled soil moisture at Elmore with the Soilwater app compared to moisture probe data, indicates similar line trend changes associated with spring rainfall, free draining soil and high biomass, high yielding wheat crop.

Observations at Elmore 18.01.2023
Photos of Elmore smm site

Modem swap over to 4G at the Elmore site has the data back online after some system changes during December.

North East
Youanmite soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Youanmite speedo moisture currently 100%

Youanmite has a full profile and 30 per cent wetter than this time last year.

Gippsland cropping
Gippsland (Giffard West) soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Gippsland speedo moisture currently 54 per cent

The Giffard West site in Gippsland was planned for an early sown summer crop, but the sowing window passed. Conditions have been dry and shallow moisture losses have been experienced in the past six weeks.

South West
Lake Bolac SMM (30 – 100 cm)
Lk Bolac soil moisture levels at 75 per cent

Lake Bolac had a full profile through spring and there has been some slight drying of the top horizon in the past two months. Deep sensors are above saturation.

Hamilton SMM (30 – 100 cm)
Chick peas growing at the Hamilton soil moisture monitoring site.

Off line, modem replacement planned for February.  Spring sown chick peas nearing marturity and harvest at Hamilton.

Yalla - Y - Poora
Yalla - Y - Poora summed and stacked individual soil moisture graph.

The second probe site at Yalla - Y - Poora in the South West is in the process to be converted onto the dash board format of the other Agriculture Victoria sites. Upper limits have been identified and the site recorded a full profile through winter and spring and some slight drying of the top horizon during summer.


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