MicroFarm Update March 2015

MicroFarm happenings are updated on Twitter @LandWISENZ with tweets appearing on both the LandWISE main website and the MicroFarm specific site.

The aerial view above of the MicroFarm was provided by new Centre for Land and Water residents, AltusUAS. This is a wide angle colour image, but we are also looking forward to capturing a range of other image types over coming weeks.

So far this season we have completed fourteen irrigation rotations across our various crops. We have guidance from HydroServices soil moisture monitoring and advice. Their weekly reports are posted on the MicroFarm Irrigation Monitoring page.

The linear-move irrigator that the Ritchie family  provided has been critical to success this year – one of the driest we’ve seen for a while. In August we posted a story about rebuilding the linear from parts.

Now, part way through Cyclone Pam, Hawke’s Bay is getting much needed rain. In our case, this has been a manageable amount and we have been fortunate to avoid the strong winds that have caused trouble north of us.

Since last week we’ve received regular showers, with daily rain totals of 20mm, 10mm, 0mm, 5mm and 25mm and moderate rain continuing. So 75mm so far, with about 12mm ET in that time. You can access our weather data from the MicroFarm site weather page, provided for us by HortPlus MetWatch.

Cover crops planted last month are coming away well. We irrigated them to get them started, but with the current rain, that is probably it for the season. The mustard and the oat/vetch mix were both direct drilled by Mike Kettle Contracting.

Our two crops awaiting harvest are sweetcorn for McCain Foods and navy beans for Heinz-Watties. Both crops are looking good.

Looking at the AltusUAS image above, the gaps in the sweetcorn on the left are where crop samples were taken to compare growth of seedlings with and without cover.

At the far end of the MicroFarm, the navy beans glow yellow as they reach maturity. Despite the colour change, HydroServices soil moisture monitoring shows water use has remained high, suggesting plants remain active.

The four white squares in the paddocks on the right are cover cloth on our cover crops: mustard and on an oat/vetch blend. We will remove two covers soon and monitor growth. Two other covers will remain in place for a few more weeks.

We are keen to involve even more technology partners at the MicroFarm.

Wintec has established a trial network of soil moisture sensors which are being compared with the HydroServices neutron probe results.

Installing the WINTEC wireless soil moisture sensor array
Installing the WINTEC wireless soil moisture sensor array

CoverMapOnionsASL software, (LandWISE Yield Estimation software) and apps for pipfruit and irrigation industries) have developed a ground cover measurement tool. We used it to map MicroFarm onion crop canopies and found good correlation with final yields.

If you have something to test or demonstrate, or know someone that might add value, let us know!

Remember, you can follow @LandWISENZ on Twitter, or keep an eye on the MicroFarm website for the most up to date information on happenings.

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