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Soil Moisture Monitoring
30 September 2022
2022 Issue 7
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.

Recent Soil Moisture Monitoring observations

From 29 September

Victorian rainfall deciles for August.Average rainfall for the Northern half of the Mallee above Ouyen. Above average for the Wimmera and Northern country with decile 10 conditions centred around Horsham and districts west of the line from Echuca, Bendigo and Ballarat.

Figure 1: August rainfall deciles for Victoria

Average rainfall for the Northern half of the Mallee above Ouyen. Above average for the Wimmera and Northern country with decile 10 conditions centred around Horsham and districts west of the line from Echuca, Bendigo and Ballarat.

September rainfall percentages (month to date 29 September).  All cropping districts are tracking above average  to well above average for monthly September rainfall.

Figure 2: September rainfall percentages (month to date 29 September) for Victoria

Significantly wetter for the cropping districts north of the divide and the Mallee is on track for decile 10 in some areas.

September rainfall (month to date, 29 September) for Victoria A wet  month and all cropping districts north of the divide are above 50mm.

Figure 3. September rainfall (month to date, 29 September) for Victoria

September month-to-date totals were in the range of 50 - 100 millimetres for most of Victoria with some districts above 100 millimetres.

Speedo assessments

Soil moisture measurements collected by the Agriculture Victoria moisture probe network have shown that soil moisture profiles have increased over the past month, which goes against the observations traditionally seen in Spring. This Spring, high decile rainfall has exceeded crop water demands despite crops with larger biomass.

All cropping sites have high to moderate/high deep soil moisture conditions and Mallee crops are flowering and progressing into grain fill with freely available moisture and cooler conditions. The Wimmera conditions are wetter in the top horizon after regular rain during August and September. Some of the sites are at the wettest levels that they have experienced all year. Observing positive moisture improvements at the monitoring sites during the months of August and September is ideal to promote plant growth and high yield potential providing it doesn’t dip into a saturated state.

Central Victoria and North East Victoria experienced high soil moisture conditions through most of winter and now many paddocks are still full or have progressed into saturation. Crop damage is particularly severe in low lying areas of paddocks and those with poor drainage, with large yield implications. Maintaining soil moisture through September is a positive indicator for high yield potential and crops that have had nutrition applied to meet their potential. Moisture profiles are full in the South-West.

Seasonal outlook and conditions are excellent for yield potential on free draining soils and where crop nutrition has been adequate and disease management has been able to be implemented.

Soil moisture speedos 29 September 2022

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 52 per cent, Sheep Hills 82 per cent, Normanville 100 per cent.
Speedo soil moisture graphs
Werrimull soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Werrimull Speedo, moisture currently 100%

A 15 per cent moisture increase in the second half of September at the Werrimull monitoring site after the canola was depleting some of the moisture from 30 - 50 centimetres after a dry August. Deep soil moisture is back to 100 per cent.

Ouyen soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Ouyen Speedo, moisture currently 52%
Ouyen individual soil moisture traces. Moisture has been recorded at 100 cm in winter but during the second half of winter it was depleted at 30 - 70 cm. During September this deep moisture depletion paused and shallow moisture built up again at 30 - 40 cm.

Ouyen stacked individual soil moisture graph – 2022 view

After a consistent depletion of moisture during July and August where rainfall did not meet crop demands, current conditions are ideal for the grain-fill of barley.

Reflecting on the season to date, the 90-day period from 7 June to 6 September where rain was below average and no totals above 6 mm, may have limited opportunities to fully capitalise on the season. The barley was working hard to obtain moisture in early September, and it was predominately being sourced from 60 - 70 centimetres.

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

The Speed soil moisture monitoring site has a wet profile down to 80 centimetres (some of those zones are still saturated, above 100 per cent moisture). During winter, and now the early part of spring, all plant water requirements have been met by rainfall. Plant population, crop nutrition and disease management have been critical components to match the high yield potentials possible in a non-water limiting year.

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

Wet conditions at Normanville have topped up the deep soil moisture profile and water has now infiltrated down to one metre.

Sheep Hills soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Sheep Hills speedo 82 per cent.

Deep moisture is rated as high with excellent conditions in the main root zone of the wheat crop. Rain has met and exceeded crop water requirements during September.

Please follow the link to the soil moisture monitoring dashboard to obtain the most recent changes to this change in the Wimmera.

Brim soil moisture (30 - 100 cm)
Brim soil moisture is 77%

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

Brim summed and separate trace soil moisture graph from Brim
Bangerang district - Koschitzke Rd
Bangerang district - Koschitzke road moisture probe is 100%.
Bangerang district - Koschitzke road summed and separate trace moisture graph.

A monitoring site in between Sheep Hills and Brim shows the variance in conditions in the district as plenty of paddocks under storm cells and significant rain have full profiles. Thanks to WECF for access to this data.

Taylors Lake soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Taylors Lake speedo soil moisture currently 52%

There have been some good increases in soil moisture during Spring and conditions are ideal providing diseases are controlled, for growing faba beans this year.

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

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

Conditions are wet at Birchip with this season’s rainfall meeting the crop requirements after the profile was filled last year in the fallow phase. Improving soil moisture during September is unusual for a canola crop paddock at Birchip and the freely available moisture provides the opportunity for successful flowering and pod fill.

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

Note - this paddock is in fallow with no crop growing over winter. Additional moisture has been banked with August rain events.

Moisture has moved down to 100 centimetres this season. Crops in low lying areas could be impacted by the saturated conditions.

Raywood soil moisture monitoring site is 100%

The Raywood soil moisture monitoring site is back online and reading a full profile.

Photo of the Raywood smm site and telemetry unit after extensive repairs. Barley growing at this site.

Initial issues with the telemetry unit and ants entering the box, the site is back collecting and transmitting data. Barley growing and will have some yield impacts from the prolonged wet conditions.

Serpentine soil moisture monitoring site is 100%
Summed and separate trace soil moisture graph from Serpentine.

The Regen Ag group have a network that includes a monitoring site at Serpentine (North of Bendigo) that demonstrates that the wet September has had a significant impact, filling soil profiles that still had capacity to absorb water. Most parts of the district were already wet and spring conditions have put some of those paddocks to saturation and created water logging, impacting yield potential. Thanks to the North Central CMA for supporting the district network.

Elmore soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Elmore soil moisture speedo is 78 per cent.
Summed and separate trace soil moisture graph from Elmore.
Soil water app model of plant available water compared to moisture probe showing moisture in profile to be over 3/4.

Modelled soil moisture at Elmore with the Soilwater app compared to moisture probe data, indicates similar line trend changes associated with winter rainfall, moisture changes with the developing biomass of the wheat crop in August and September rain.

Conditions are now wet after frequent rain events over the past two months.

Observations at Elmore 30.09.2022
Photos of Elmore smm site

At the monitoring site at Elmore (30 Sept), tiller or head counts were calculated at 450 head/m2 with approximately 10 per cent more that are unlikely to produce viable heads. Assuming a three and four grain wide filling in the heads that range from six to nine florets high, this produced an estimated yield of around 6t/ha with some upside with larger grain size if the soft seasonal finish continues

If you are interested in conducting some cereal yield estimates, please use the crop yield calculator tool and the instructions are enclosed in that link.

Yield calculator app is available on the SMM dashboard
North East
Youanmite soil moisture (30 – 100 cm)
Youanmite speedo moisture currently 85%

Youanmite has conserved the deep soil moisture and most of the shallow soil moisture is largely unused with September rain meeting crop water requirements.

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

The Giffard West site in Gippsland confirmed a solid start to the season with autumn breaking in early April. The soil has remained in a wet state for the past six months.

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

Soil moisture conditions have progressed from moderate to high at Lake Bolac with the wet September conditions.

Please follow the link to the soil moisture monitoring dashboard to obtain the most recent changes.

Hamilton SMM (30 – 100 cm)
Hamilton speedo is 100 per cent.

Hamilton has a full profile on the raised beds. There is no crop growing at this site yet as it will be spring-sown with chick peas.

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 into the dash board format of the other Agriculture Victoria sites. Lower limits have been identified and the site has recorded a full profile for the past two months.


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