UArk to host virtual soil moisture sensor school Feb. 16-17

Chris Henry irrigation school
Chris Henry, right, U of A System Division of Agriculture irrigation expert, oversees an irrigation school at Alicia, Arkansas, in 2019 — photo courtesy University of Arkansas

Arkansas crop producers who want to get better control of their water use during the 2021 growing season will have several opportunities through a two-day soil health school.

The Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, will offer a two-day soil sensor school Feb. 16-17. Participants will attend both days, but have a choice of times. Morning sessions will be offered 9-10:30 a.m., and afternoon sessions will be 1-2:30 p.m.

The class is limited to 25 participants, and registration is available at The registration deadline is Feb. 8.

Chris Henry, associate professor and water management engineer for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, leads the school and says soil sensors are an important moisture management tool for producers.

“Participants will learn how sensors work, how to use them to schedule irrigation in different soil types, and how to use them to initiate and terminate irrigation,” Henry said. “We’ll also teach them learn how to construct and properly install watermark sensors through practical exercises.”

There is no cost to register or attend the schools. However, participants are encouraged to build sensors as part of the school between the two sessions. Equipment for the school is discounted and provided so participants can have materials they need to use sensors for the first time.

The cost is $152 for materials to build a set of sensors for the class. Sensor kits will be mailed Feb. 9, so participants have supplies before class.

“We strongly suggested that each participant constructs at least one sensor during the school,” Henry said. “Our goal is for participants to have the materials and expertise they need to install and use sensors on their farms.”

Participants can also purchase four sensors, a reader and a slide hammer for $500, or purchase only the items they need. The materials are provided at a discounted price to defray the cost of supplies and irrigation.

Support for the training is provided by the Arkansas Natural Resource Conservation Service, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, US Forest Service, Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board and Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

The University of Arkansas contributed this article.

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