Using soil moisture sensors as a solution to increase irrigation accuracy
To locally achieve sustainability by 2040, landowners in North Kings GSA are using a diverse range of irrigation practices, including flood and drip/micro irrigation. Jerry Doyel and his wife Valerie are taking irrigation efficiency to the next level by also adding soil moisture sensors to that list.
They started their farming operation in 1984 with the purchase of three blocks of vineyards when they were both full-time teachers.
Jerry has since diversified his irrigation techniques on his vineyard, using a drip system and surface water when available. Adding soil moisture sensors has proven to be an effective solution that complements existing irrigation practices. The sensors collect and store data about moisture in the soil and send the information to Jerry’s phone. The sensors help inform decisions about when and where to provide water, and how much water to apply to crops.
Turning on the drip system alone was not as accurate or efficient on Jerry’s vineyards. Some days the drip system overwatered, and some days it under-watered. The soil moisture sensors have provided confidence in his water use amounts in both dry and wet seasons.
He has multiple sensors for soil moisture that measure varying depths of the water table, which allows him to water his vineyard more accurately.
Additionally, Jerry uses a concrete pipeline, which connects to Fresno Irrigation District surface water when available. He operates a drip system so that when there isn’t FID surface water available, he still has a reliable groundwater supply.
Flexibility helps increase water supply reliability, and when we are all participating in flexible irrigation practices, we can collectively increase reliability of our groundwater supply.
About the grower: Jerry Doyel owns and operates his family vineyard alongside his wife in Fresno County, CA