Rather often a little water than a lot sometimes
René Voogt, from Connected Green helps landscapers by means of data interpretation to keep an eye on the water level of their plants, among many other benefits.
The technology and know-how of ConnectedGreen, using Sensoterra sensors, helps landscapers to keep an eye on the water level of their plants, among many other benefits to enhance plant health; throughout dry-summer seasons and the whole year.
René Voogt - founder of ConnectedGreen - has seen the drought in the Netherlands for some time now, in the data from the Sensoterra sensors that the company has spread across the Netherlands. 'Despite the relatively wet winter', says Voogt, 'many growing places have never really become 'the same' after last year's drought.' Voogt complements: 'There are pores in the soil, and the size of those pores can vary: from large pores in sand to very small pores in clay. This is useful, because it allows the soil to provide trees and plants with moisture and oxygen, among other things.
However, when the soil dries out, the pores fill with air. The soil is then so dry that it has become hydrophobic; water repellent. This is an extremely common phenomenon, the adverse effects of which will persist for a long time.'
René Voogt, ConnectedGreen
Soils need water and time:
In order to recover from drying out, the soil needs not only water, but also time. Normally, this recovery takes place in winter, when there is less evaporation and more rain than in the preceding months. "This winter, however, was not wet enough to fully replenish the growing areas after the also dry period last year," explains Voogt. A phenomenon more common in places with sandy subsoil, where topsoil water and groundwater have depleted due to the drought, or has subsided deeper.
René compares the dried out soil to a sponge. 'If you throw a dry sponge into a bucket of water, it won't immediately absorb the water. Only when you let the sponge soak for a while does it regain its water-absorbing function.'
How soils become hydrophobic?
In case of hydrophobic soil, it is important to give a smaller amount of water sometimes, rather than often. 'If you throw a splash of water on it in one go, it just washes away', says Voogt. This leaching goes either via the surface, as rainwater flows over the streets during paving, or straight through the growing area towards the groundwater. However, the water level has - also due to the drought - in many places become so low that the roots can no longer reach it.
'Instead of sometimes giving much water, landscapers should switch to 'more often' in smaller amounts,' Voogt emphasizes once again. This wisdom is not new, of course, but with the drought of recent years, it is more important than ever to respect the plants' necessity for water. 'In practice, people often go to a tree with the tractor and fill the pouring rim once or two. In reality, only 10-20% of the water remains in that growing place that has become hydrophobic - and that is a shame of course.' Not only from the water and man-hours, but also from the nutrients and salts in the soil. They wash out with the water.
The degree of leaching can be visualized using the data collected and analyzed by Voogt with Connected Green technology, and Sensoterra sensors. Voogt:
'The' steeper 'the peak on the moisture graph, the more leaching takes place. You can see this with a large watering event in a dried out place: the moisture content rises very quickly, but also falls again almost as quickly. If you perform smaller, more frequent watering, the peak is less steep: water is added more slowly, but it also lingers better in the growing place.
The effect of a large irrigation is very limited for the long term. Source: Connected Green
Smaller, more frequent watering, have a much longer-lasting effect in soil health. Source: Connected Green
'By looking closely at this, it is possible to find the optimal amount of water to maintain the average moisture percentage. Practice shows that this can make a difference of up to 70 percent of the amount of water. In a medium-sized municipality that can quickly save several hundred thousand liters per season.'
In summary, the message is: if your growing area dries out, it is very difficult to get it wet again. Voogt: 'It is therefore important that you not only water in the right way, but that growing areas and planting areas are also laid out in the right way.' The reuse of rainwater plays an important role in this. Landscaping ideas such as construction of water buffers or crates around and under the planting areas, prevent landscapes from flooding, offering additional water to use when necessary. In this way you create a kind of microsystem that is independent of the available or unavailable groundwater.
Unfortunately, such constructions cannot be installed anywhere. Then, according to Voogt, it is especially important to keep attention on the field through monitoring. 'You have to intervene before the soil dries out. If it has already dried out, then you should start watering it gently. It is really time to look at watering again and the creation of growing areas. I think the growing place of the future will be a combination of innovations such as we have seen at the Gouden Gieter.'
In this partnership, ConnectedGreen and Sensoterra work together to provide the best soil moisture monitoring experience to growers worldwide. Sensoterra comes with the wireless-farm-tough soil moisture sensors while ConnectedGreen comes with the expertise of data interpretation in an user-friendly app, with data for more than 2400 plant species and different soil types. With more than 600 sensors installed in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Sensoterra is a leader in wireless soil moisture sensing, providing data-driven solutions for optimizing land and freshwater resources for agriculture, horticulture, landscaping, and Smart cities. LoRaWAN technology and wireless connectivity empower better decision making for land management through smart soil moisture measurements. With thousands of Sensoterra sensors in the ground, generating over 60 million data points globally, Sensoterra grows every year and have been supporting from small to big-ag growers.
Sensoterra app is user-friendly, introducing a whole new world of technology to customers everyday - easily accessed by our web Monitor page or mobile phones. Curious to see how Sensoterra can help you today? Check our case studies!
For more information, send us an email to: [email protected].
Founded in 2017, ConnectedGreen provides a smart system for remote monitoring of green projects. Making the world greener with smart technology. ConnectedGreen has deployed more than 1,200 sensors in the Netherlands and Belgium.