New Soil Electronic Sensor System Installed at Barton Agriculture Research Center

Matthew Suede and Lauren Casebolt

Southeast agriculture majors Matthew Yuede and Lauren Casebolt have the opportunity to work with the new soil sensor system this summer at the Barton Center.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 14, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Agriculture continues implementing new technologies with the recent installation of a soil electronic sensor system at the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center.

“The technology is being implemented within southeastern Missouri, and Southeast is likely one of the first to adopt. The technology is rapidly expanding,” said Dr. Mike Aide, chair of the Southeast Department of Agriculture.

The system consists of a stand supporting solar array for power, a transmitter to send data to a satellite for retransmission to a computer/cell phone, as well as electronics to support soil water probes at four soil depths, an electronic rain gauge and an air temperature probe.

The sensor system provides soil data that is monitored daily. The system’s sensors can determine soil moisture on an hourly basis. It also can measure water content in soil at selected depths to quantitatively predict irrigation scheduling and predict crop performance, Aide said.

The system also records air temperatures and rainfall, which is transferred by satellite directly to designated electronic devices. Other computer programs use the data to predict soil water evaporation, potential for selected disease and insect growth potentials, and net photosynthesis.

At the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center, we employ the soil moisture technology to assess irrigation and drainage needs to manage our controlled subsurface irrigation and drainage system,” Aide said.

Aide said the new system will enhance agriculture students’ knowledge and skill set, putting them a step ahead of agriculture students at other universities where this technology is not available.

“Agriculture students may use the data to predict irrigation scheduling, disease occurrence, insect development and crop performance,” Aide said.

The project was installed by Below Ag Service of Parma, Missouri.