On Friday 6 May, VegNET – Gippsland hosted presentations and a field walk at Farm Express Salads in Boisdale, which has played host to a demonstration of soil moisture monitoring technology since October last year.

At the event, 20 vegetable growers from East Gippsland, Wellington, and Baw Baw Shires, learnt about soil moisture monitoring – the first stage of this demonstration project – and what to expect from the technology.

To date, the trial has identified key decision points critical to implementing and adopting soil moisture monitors in short-cycle vegetable crops.

The project has been guided by a reference group of industry representatives and service providers, who presented a regional context and other extension opportunities available to growers to improve irrigation.

Presentations covered the Hort Innovation-funded EnviroVeg project and Gippsland’s regional report; the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and Agriculture Victoria’s Sustainable Irrigation Program; and setting expectations for soil moisture monitoring.

VegNET – Gippsland Regional Development Officer Bonnie Dawson said the growers who attended the field day were are all at different stages of adopting this agriculture technology.

“Despite this, everyone was quite positive about what they heard on the day. It is hoped that what they learnt can be easily applied to their own production systems,” Bonnie said.

“A key point raised by Marek Matuszek from Ag Logic was that installing a soil moisture monitoring system is not about giving you automation, it is about gaining a greater understanding of what trends are emerging with soil moisture levels, therefore learning more about what impacts plant growth and condition.

“VegNET – Gippsland will continue to work with growers and stakeholders to integrate soil moisture monitoring as well as other agriculture technologies into their production systems.”

The ‘Growing Gippsland’s Drought Resilience with Technology and Better Soil’ project is supported by Food & Fibre Gippsland, through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

The VegNET 3.0 (VG21000) project is funded through the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund using the vegetable R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government.