University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Rhuanito (Johnny) Ferrarezi discussed the use of soil moisture sensors at a recent grower workshop in Sebring. He summarizes that presentation, which included a discussion of how the sensors can help in the face of HLB.
“The main goal of using soil moisture sensors is to increase irrigation efficiency,” Ferrarezi says. “The soil moisture sensors allow us to monitor precisely how much water is available in soil.” That information can be used to irrigate based on the trees’ needs “and then reduce the water waste and potentially the runoff,” he says.
The computer-based sensors are usually attached to handheld data loggers that can retrieve data manually or automatically via various technologies, including Bluetooth, so the data can be accessed on computers and cell phones.
“We are planting citrus in sandy soils, and the use of soil moisture sensors in sandy soils is a little bit more challenging than the regular clay soils,” Ferrarezi says.
Use of the sensors can get growers to “apply less water more often in light of the change in water uptake from HLB,” Ferrarezi says. He adds that soil moisture sensors are a good investment for the average grower.
“One of our major concerns is that trees are needing more water and more often, and we are not updating the irrigation scheduling based on that. Having a tool that tells in real time when to water will definitely change the game and perhaps extend the growth life under the current situation,” concludes Ferrarezi.
Hear more from Ferrarezi:
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