Why the Neutron Probe?
Quite simply there is no more accurate method of measuring soil moisture. There are many devices on the market that will measure soil moisture in "real time" but at the end of the day their claims of accuracy usually state that they are "nearly" as accurate as a neutron probe. Since the neutron probe is the standard of the industry, why not just use that standard?
It may be more difficult to acquire the readings using the neutron probe but there is no substitute for reliable, repeatable, and accurate data. Especially when caring for your crops.
Water management services
The procedure for monitoring the moisture in potato fields is as follows. Normally, two or three sites are selected that are representative of soil conditions of the entire field. Tubes are installed in accessible locations, and are read twice per week. The readings are then entered into an iPad that is linked to a computer that is carried in the pickup with the consultant. Our proprietary software then couples the probe readings with real time weather information, field specific stage of crop growth, weather forecast, and observations of the consultant. A graph is then produced showing the moisture levels and history of a three-foot soil profile. A report is also generated giving a recommended run time and amount of water to apply for the next 7 days. In fields where the readings are taken twice per week the information and data are then updated and revised three or four days later, and a new recommendation is produced.
If the grower so desires, we can provide the same service on a one reading per week basis with one site per field. This is normally done in rotational crops and not high value crops like potatoes. Obviously, neither the readings nor recommended run time can be updated mid week with this program, but for some crops and management styles this is adequate.
The information is left with the grower before the consultant leaves the farm, and now with our new state of the art website, the reports can be uploaded to the farm's own secure area and viewed online.
Year-end summaries are produced after the growing season is over.