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Reinhard Nolz


Knowing the components of a soil water balance—for example, evapotranspiration, soil water content, and precipitation—is the basis for agricultural water management. Weighing lysimeters and soil water sensors are commonly used to quantify these components. Data can be used to validate common models to estimate evapotranspiration based on meteorological data, for instance. As every measurement device has its own characteristics, it is helpful to assess and improve the performance of a system to obtain best possible data. Recent developments in the processing of lysimeter data allow determining both evapotranspiration and precipitation directly from lysimeter data. Resulting datasets are characterized by a proper accuracy, completeness, and a high temporal resolution. Soil water sensors usually measure a physical property that is related to soil water content or matric potential via a specific calibration function. Hence, measurement accuracy depends not only on this calibration but also on basic physical principles and material properties. Knowing the performance of a device is, therefore, essential for the selection of an adequate sensor arrangement and truthful data interpretation. Advanced soil water monitoring sites combine different sensor types that are integrated into a wireless network to enable real-time data availability and provide a basis for large-scale monitoring.

Open access

Peter Cepuder and Reinhard Nolz

Irrigation management by means of soil moisture sensor technologies

Water is a sensitive and limited resource, mainly in intensively used agricultural areas in Austria, where groundwater is used as drinking water as well as for irrigation purposes. In order to guarantee a sustainable use of irrigation water, soil water measurement devices can be used to optimise irrigation, which means that controlling the soil water content in the entire root system may prevent water stress due to water deficiency on the one hand, and over wetting on the other hand. Furthermore, losses of nutrients due to leaching can be avoided. Several research studies on that topic were initiated during the last few years. The soil water status on selected fields planted with different crops (onions, carrots, sugar beets, sweet maize, zucchini) was monitored continuously by FDR (Frequency Domain Reflectometry) soil water measurement devices. Sensors in different depths measure the plant water uptake in the root zone under standard irrigation practices on different sites and different soils, respectively. The deepest sensor is installed to avoid deep percolation caused by over irrigation. By means of these data, irrigation could be regulated based on the actual plant water requirements to keep the soil water content within an ideal range for crop development.

Open access

Marek Rodný, Reinhard Nolz, Viliam Novák, Hana Hlaváčiková, Willibald Loiskandl and Margarita Himmelbauer


The aim of this study was to present and validate an alternative evapotranspiration calculation procedure that includes specific expression for the aerodynamic resistance. Calculated daily potential evapotranspiration totals were compared to the results of FAO56 procedure application and to the results of measurements taken with a precision weighing lysimeter permanently grown with irrigated, short grass. For the examination period from March 17 through October 31, 2011, it was found that daily potential evapotranspiration estimates obtained by both calculation procedures fitted well to the lysimeter measurements. Potential evapotranspiration daily totals calculated with the use of the proposed aerodynamic resistance calculation procedure gave better results for days with higher evapotranspiration, compared to the FAO56 method. The most important is that the approach based on the proposed alternative aerodynamic resistance could be effectively used even for a wide variety of crops, because it is not limited to any particular crop.