Project: Monitoring Soil Moisture in Cover Crop Fallow and Direct Seed Fallow

Project Manager:
Dan Harwood
Palouse Rock Lake Conservation District

Goal: To implement a pilot project using new technology to measure soil moisture, temperature, and electro-conductivity with sensors every four inches, uploading information to the Cloud every 15 minutes. The information will be viewed easily on a website. This will give producers the ability to accurately monitor three parameters in real time in order to understand what a cover crop system is actually doing. This new technology reveals how a direct seed fallow system functions under the surface under different weather conditions.

Update: This study was a home run. By comparing moisture retention every four inches up to 48” in side by side cover crop fallow and direct seed fallow, the study has these results so far:

  1. No net loss of moisture in cover crop fallow as compared to direct seed fallow
  2. Decrease in soil temperature in cover crop fallow, which benefits soil organisms
  3. Suppression of weeds without herbicides
  4. Reduction of soil compaction, which enhances moisture absorption and retention
  5. Reduction in soil erosion
  6. Early signs of possible increase in yield

Project Website: http://www.prlcd.org/aquaspy.html