Utilizing Soil Moisture and Microclimate Monitoring Technology to Reduce Water and Energy Needs and Improve Sugar Beet Crop Production for Producers in the Big Horn Basin Region of Wyoming

Project Overview

FW08-303
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $29,923.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Caryn Agee
Washakie County Conservation District

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: sugarbeets

Practices

  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: general pest management
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Sugar beets are a staple crop in the Big Horn Basin region of Wyoming, but easily develop Cercospora Leaf Spot with excess soil moisture. Not only has this disease been devastating, but recent global sugar production practices and prices have impacted the region’s ability to maintain profitability. Sustaining sugar beet production is crucial to the agricultural diversity and economy of the area.

    This Professional + Producer Grant will help monitor soil moisture on irrigated sugar beets by supplying 15 environmental sensors on five center-pivot farms. These sensors will detect and log real-time humidity, temperature and precipitation data that can then be downloaded to a computer. This gathered information will aid in management decisions to control soil moisture. Reducing moisture at critical times could potentially reduce loss from disease and increase sugar production in beets because of drought stress. Tracking soil moisture could also prevent nutrient leaching from overwatering and help understand water movement through differing soil profiles.

    When this SARE project is completed, the data will be distributed to producers through a presentation and published material. The monitors will then be used to research irrigation practices for other field crops grown in the area.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.