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.

Project Update: Winter 2018

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. A 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 a possible increase in yield

Project Website: