Over the past ten years, environmental monitoring has become increasingly important. Environmental factors such as climate change, dwindling water resources, and threatened habitats are driving the need to monitor the environment and implement better policies to protect it. Many natural processes in the environment are driven by or in some ways related soil hydrological processes. Monitoring soil moisture conditions provides important information for the protection and in the understanding of local and regional water resources. The JXCT soil moisture sensor is the most advanced soil sensor commercially available and described below are application examples where the JXCT has been used to gather data.
Irrigation of crops represents 90% of the water used worldwide. Monitoring soil moisture in the root zone of crops will optimize irrigation. The benefits of optimizing irrigation scheduling with soil moisture sensor includes increasing crop yields, saving water, protecting local water resources from runoff, saving on energy costs, saving on fertilizer costs and increasing the farmer profitability.
In arid parts of the world, ancient people farmed and irrigated crops to feed themselves and their livestock. In the desert southwestern US, Mesoamericans were able to grow crops in seemly waterless desert environments, and the irrigation practices of these ancient people remain a mystery. It is believed by some archeologists that the ancient Mesoamericans extracted water from clay confining layers for their crops. Soil moisture probes such as the JXCT are deployed in archeological sites to better understand the soil hydrology and to help us understand the day-to-day lives of our distant ancestors.
For thousands of years, people have been growing corn and other crops to sustain the nutritional requirements of the population and livestock. Over the centuries, crops have been domesticated and changed genetically from their wild counterparts for this specific purpose. Now that biofuels are a possible alternative energy source, crops need to be cultivated in order to produce ethanol. In recent years, a new branch of agronomy emerged called biomass studies. Agronomists that specialize in biomass look at new ways to ferment crops to increase the ethanol yields. The goal is to be able to produce ethanol from not only the fermentation of the fruit, but the stems, leaves, and roots. Soil moisture sensor is used in this research to characterize the hydrological requirements of the biomass crops.
Each year, erosion from changes in land use causes millions of dollars in damage to property and natural water systems. In order to understand the causes of erosion and make predictions about when and where erosion occurs, hydrologists need to record rain fall, sediment and soil moisture. The water infiltration rate of soil is a function of soil moisture. If the soil is dry, the infiltration rate will be sufficient to prevent run off. Overland water flow may occur if rain events happen at a time when soil is saturated. Monitoring soil moisture is an important input parameter into erosion prediction models.
Drought Forecasting Models
Regional drought can severely affect the economy and even lead to starvation in some areas of the world. With advances in computer processing and environmental modeling methods, scientists are beginning to understand regional water budgets and hydrological processes. An important input into drought forecasting models is changes in regional soil moisture. Long-term soil moisture data over large regions can be used to predict and characterize harmful droughts.
Poor air quality from particulates in air can have negative consequences to not only human health but regional ecosystems. Vehicular traffic on unpaved roads can lead to major dust problems. In areas of the Southwestern US, the soil is naturally abundant in several types of asbestos. Local officials close unpaved roads based on soil moisture conditions to prevent dangerous dust situations.