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I can watch my crop roots grow on my cell phone. Not literally, but I can tell you exactly what depth crops have rooted to in fields where we have installed weather stations with moisture probes.
Day by day, the soil moisture line stair-steps down the graph as roots dig deeper into the soil profile and deplete water to that point. It’s fascinating to watch water use. You can see when the plants wake up and start drawing water for the day. It’s like a live feed to the root zone.
While overwhelming at first — much like yield data was — the information pulled from the weather stations and moisture probes has helped guide management decisions and reveal questions we didn’t know we should be asking. Questions such as how to get stratified nutrients like phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to the root zone with dry years in no-till. We’re still unsure of the solution, but we at least know when it’s a problem.
Our data collection goes beyond monitoring moisture. Data gathered from various sources has helped us make and observe improvements in our soils and production over years of no-till and input experimentation.
I farm with my wife, Stephanie and our three young sons, Asher (5), Grayson, (3) and Tristan (3 months), my older sister Sarah Leguee and my brother-in-law (married to my younger sister) Erik Nikolejsin. Together we grow a wide variety of crops on the flat plains of Saskatchewan. We were fortunate my parents, Russ…