Improving water efficiency

Technology to improve water usage efficiency

Rothamsted Research

Researcher: Richard Whalley

Funders: BBSRC; EU

A new sensor developed by Rothamsted Research and Delta-T Devices allows you to measure the water content of soil.

This new technology gives an precise measurement of matric potentials in soils, which allows us to accurately measure soil drying by roots over the whole season and control an irrigation system according to water stress, and therefore save water.

One potential use for this instrument is to decide whether or not to apply expensive irrigation water once the crop is growing well.

When water is in contact with solid particles (eg clay or sand particles within soil), adhesive intermolecular forces between the water and the solid can be large and important. The forces promote surface tension and the formation of menisci within the solid matrix, force is then required to break these menisci.