Crazy? Perhaps! Which according to one of my farmer friends is a little typical of me when I put my mind to figuring out something. So I had been analyzing my crop water use data from my dryland corn, sorghum, soybean crop water use comparison study. It’s the one where we had coon problems this year and ended up trapping a skunk! I noticed how much the soil moisture profile had been depleted and knowing we’ve received minimal precip during fall and winter, I wondered what our soil moisture profile would be for dryland fields by planting. During a meeting yesterday I thought it would be good to install some watermark sensors to determine soil moisture profile recharge with the pending storm. Problem was I was at a meeting over 100 miles from my equipment and the pending storm was starting today. But I was still determined to get them in the ground as early as possible in order to measure the soil moisture status. So I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to heavy rain. Great! It was such a gorgeous day yesterday, and the past week…past month… The first thing my colleagues had asked me when I told them my idea was “Why didn’t you think of this sooner?” Answer: “Guess I needed a precipitation event!”
So I drive to the field in the rain, get the gear together and start installing the sensors. First foot went in easy with the rain that had soaked in. Then it seemed like I tried for 20 minutes (although probably not near that long) putting all my weight on the soil probe to get the 2nd foot in. Wind-driven rain soaked my jeans since I didn’t have rainpants on…fingers were numb from the cold. I kept telling myself this will still hopefully be worth it! On the research data from this field, the second foot was driest of all the crops (was depleted well above plant available water). I got the third foot in and John, the man who farmed the field appeared.
While he thought it was crazy he graciously volunteered to help as he always does. He put in the rest of the sensors while I
hooked everything up.
The last several years we have been blessed to have a fully charged profile going into planting. Even with this rain/snow event, I’m not sure we will have that in dryland fields in this area of Nebraska. So I thought it would be interesting to know where we stood before planting and figured the farmers may want to know that as well. Perhaps a little crazy regarding installing the sensors on such a bad weather day but hoping the data in the end will benefit our farmers and be worth it!