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UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Placement of tensiometers as guides to irrigation practices

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Authors

W.J. Coats

Publication Information

California Agriculture 68(3):87-87. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v068n03p87.

Published online July 01, 2014

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With the introduction of new tools to measure soil moisture, agricultural research took a major step forward in the development of efficient crop irrigation techniques. In this 1960 article, researchers explain how tensiometers work and give specific, practical advice on where to place them in the field.

1960

“The moisture sensing unit — a porous cup — of tensiometers must be reached by the irrigation water if the moisture measuring instruments are to be of practical value as guides to irrigation practices.

“In most soils a good location for a tensiometer station is often next to the furrow, but it may be necessary to locate the porous cup under the furrow in orchard soils with little or no lateral movement of water during irrigation. In sprinkler-irrigated orchards the cup must be in soil that is re-wetted by the sprinkler at each irrigation but is not shielded by a low hanging branch nor is flooded by runoff from a branch. Also the porous cup should be in areas of active feeder roots as determined by root density studies, or by digging at different sites until a general pattern of root densities is apparent.

“Some traffic between the tree rows is necessary in most orchards, so the soil moisture measuring instrument must be in a protected spot reached by irrigation water and where feeder root density is average for the tree. In general, a good location for a tensiometer is at the drip line on the tree side of the first furrow, south or west of the tree.”

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Author notes

Lewis H. Stolzy joined UC Riverside's Department of Irrigation and Soil Science in 1954 as an irrigation engineer. He was instrumental in the invention of new soil oxygen and water sensors, including a portable neutron probe for use in the field. He also studied how soil contents and constituents affect plant development — and, therefore, how data from the new technology could help improve farming practices.

Like Stolzy, Albert W. Marsh was an irrigation innovator. A Cooperative Extension irrigation and soils specialist at UC Riverside, Marsh is credited with introducing drip irrigation to California, which has allowed the state's agriculture to conserve inestimable volumes of water and allowed farming to continue in many areas despite sometimes arid conditions. An environmental sciences scholarship at UC Riverside honors Marsh's memory.

Richard E. Puffer and Dwight C. Baier were well-known and respected UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors serving Southern California growers.

References

Solzy LH, et al. Placement of tensiometers as guides to irrigation practices. Calif Agr. 1960. 14(3):11-2.

UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Placement of tensiometers as guides to irrigation practices

W.J. Coats
Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu

UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Placement of tensiometers as guides to irrigation practices

Share using any of the popular social networks Share by sending an email Print article
Share using any of the popular social networks Share by sending an email Print article

Authors

W.J. Coats

Publication Information

California Agriculture 68(3):87-87. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v068n03p87.

Published online July 01, 2014

PDF  |  Citation  |  Permissions

Full text

With the introduction of new tools to measure soil moisture, agricultural research took a major step forward in the development of efficient crop irrigation techniques. In this 1960 article, researchers explain how tensiometers work and give specific, practical advice on where to place them in the field.

1960

“The moisture sensing unit — a porous cup — of tensiometers must be reached by the irrigation water if the moisture measuring instruments are to be of practical value as guides to irrigation practices.

“In most soils a good location for a tensiometer station is often next to the furrow, but it may be necessary to locate the porous cup under the furrow in orchard soils with little or no lateral movement of water during irrigation. In sprinkler-irrigated orchards the cup must be in soil that is re-wetted by the sprinkler at each irrigation but is not shielded by a low hanging branch nor is flooded by runoff from a branch. Also the porous cup should be in areas of active feeder roots as determined by root density studies, or by digging at different sites until a general pattern of root densities is apparent.

“Some traffic between the tree rows is necessary in most orchards, so the soil moisture measuring instrument must be in a protected spot reached by irrigation water and where feeder root density is average for the tree. In general, a good location for a tensiometer is at the drip line on the tree side of the first furrow, south or west of the tree.”

Return to top

Author notes

Lewis H. Stolzy joined UC Riverside's Department of Irrigation and Soil Science in 1954 as an irrigation engineer. He was instrumental in the invention of new soil oxygen and water sensors, including a portable neutron probe for use in the field. He also studied how soil contents and constituents affect plant development — and, therefore, how data from the new technology could help improve farming practices.

Like Stolzy, Albert W. Marsh was an irrigation innovator. A Cooperative Extension irrigation and soils specialist at UC Riverside, Marsh is credited with introducing drip irrigation to California, which has allowed the state's agriculture to conserve inestimable volumes of water and allowed farming to continue in many areas despite sometimes arid conditions. An environmental sciences scholarship at UC Riverside honors Marsh's memory.

Richard E. Puffer and Dwight C. Baier were well-known and respected UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors serving Southern California growers.

References

Solzy LH, et al. Placement of tensiometers as guides to irrigation practices. Calif Agr. 1960. 14(3):11-2.


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