Soil Moisture Measurement in Dry Farming
What Is Dry Farming?
It is thought that dry farming as we know it began in the 19th century. But by the 20th century, many commercial farmers started relying on irrigation to capture growing markets. Dry farming has been a resourceful and creative technique for farming in areas with minimal irrigation or rainfall. It allows them to survive in unpredictable circumstance.1
Today, as farmers in the West grapple with water shortages that are being exacerbated by rising temperatures and more frequent and intense droughts linked to climate change, dry farming is once again becoming a popular and viable option.2
Dry farming is a form of agriculture that does not require irrigation. Using soil conservation techniques, dry farming allows farmers to capture and retain moisture from seasonal rainfall, enabling them to grow a variety of crops including tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn and even watermelon. Dry farming is not only an effective way to conserve water, but it can also produce healthier, tastier, and more nutrient-rich crops than those grown with irrigation.2
Techniques For Dry Farming
Dry farming is a complex project, requiring appropriate methods to make the best use of the limited moisture in the soil. To ensure their crops get all the moisture they need, farmers employ a variety of techniques to maximize their harvest.
Dry farming techniques include:
- Planting earlier in the season than usual to benefit from the soil moisture preserved from winter precipitation2
- Placing plants more widely spread to give roots more space for water2
- Sealing moisture in by tilling the soil after harvest3
- Keep soil weed-free3
- Improving soil quality and health4
What Are The Advantages Of Dry Farming?
Although dry farming has the obvious benefit of allowing farmers to grow crops in arid regions without the need for supplemental irrigation, there are further advantages to this method of cultivation. Not only does it yield longer-lasting, tastier produce, but it also helps to reduce production costs as it works with nature and requires little to no additional irrigation or fertiliser.5 Moreover, it contributes to water conservation and helps broaden crop alternatives to ensure the economic stability of countries facing severe drought.1
Measuring Soil Moisture and Health for Dry Farming
Dryland farmers need to measure their soil moisture to ensure optimal conditions for desirable dryland farming. Too much or too little moisture can have a negative impact on many soil functions, creating an unattractive environment for the microorganisms living in it. Excessive water content affects the transfer of nutrients, while an insufficient amount of moisture can affect the quality of the soil, with poor soil quality leading to poor crops.
The gravimetric method is a common technique used for measuring soil moisture content. It works by weighing a sample of soil before and after it has been dried. The difference in weight between the wet and dry samples will determine the moisture content. This technique offers accurate and reliable results.
At Precisa, we have the perfect solution for your soil moisture measurement needs – our moisture analysers! These instruments are made up of two critical components – a balance to capture the initial and final weight, and a heat source to heat the sample. We also have a control panel and display, making the analysers easy to use.
For more information, please get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to help.