Soil Moisture Monitoring
Rain and Grain - SMM November 2016 Speedo Summary 
The rain and grain project, with the use of Soil Moisture Monitoring probes, provides real time soil water content data.  Monitoring sites have been commissioned in cropping regions throughout the state by Agriculture Victoria. The sites record soil water content at one source point from thirty centimetres down to one metre as a reference point for a paddock.
Locations of Ag Victoria soil moisture monitoring sites

To access information provided in the graphs, log onto the website, here  Login and password are both: dpi

Recent SMM observations:
Large biomass crops with big water demands and limited rain in the second half of October and early November (graph below) has depleted large volumes of moisture in cropping areas of the Wimmera, Mallee, Gippsland and Central Victoria. Exceptions to these observations are the sites in the south west with more rain falling in late October, and the north east site at Youanmite (but this is from the vetch crop failing due to waterlogging and limited plant growth in spring to deplete moisture reserves).  Obviously this may not be representative for generic soil moisture conditions across north east Victoria, as there are other soil moisture monitoring networks that have had shown good crop growth and moisture use in the past two weeks.

The Bureau of Meteorology landscape water balance map for root zone moisture (8 November) in the cropping regions shows the Wimmera and Mallee districts are average to above average for soil moisture for this time of year. South west, north east and lower central Victoria are still very much above average.

Percentages with the "speedo" dials have generally decreased across the state. Exceptions are Youanmite and the Ouyen site that received its best rain events in September which were too late for allowing deep root development. Moisture is positioned deep and was validated last week with a soil core examination. Moisture probes will determine how much water is conserved through summer for next years crop.
Ouyen stacked soil moisture graph 2016.
Moisture only increased at 30 and 40 centimetres this winter at the Ouyen SMM site (8 kilometres east of town) with small but frequent rain events. Early September the soil moisture values were the same as the start of sowing (highlighted with the red ovals).  It is assumed that the dry soil below this depth didn't permit root development. Despite rain in September, the barley crop was flowering and after anthesis there was no more root growth to use the deep moisture that had been deposited to 90 centimetres. Shallow water drainage and evaporation have caused the moisture decrease this spring.

Monitoring Site SpeedosProviding crops have not been too wet, large yield potentials appear to be present across the state when matching agronomy has been able to be applied.
Largest decreases with the speedo dials have been the central Victorian and Wimmera crops but in these areas water use is decreasing as the crops mature. Coonooer Bridge and Elmore have both used over half a full profile of moisture in the last month and both are expected to still have moisture in the bank for next year. 

There are fourteen monitoring sites where upper and lower limits (bucket size) soil moisture status has been identified.
Note - Speedo readings are from 9 November

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