In the summer of 2019, Stevens Water Monitoring Systems and the Oregon State University (OSU) Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) partnered to evaluate watermelon water-use efficiency through advanced sensor-based, sub-surface drip irrigation.
The project at OSU was located at the HAREC Horticulture program in Hermiston, home of the famous watermelons we all love. Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Dr. Scott Lukas utilized Stevens’ HydraProbe soil moisture sensors and Stevens-Connect cloud-based platform to evaluate four levels of soil moisture on grafted and non-grafted watermelon transplants.
Preliminary data suggests that grafted watermelons are significantly more drought tolerant that traditional transplants. Furthermore, findings suggest that through sensor-based monitoring of soil moisture, irrigation applied water usage can be reduced by up to 33%.
Reducing irrigation volume not only conserves water, but it reduces nutrient leaching into groundwater systems. OSU is happy to have developed this cooperative research project, and looks forward to future work to enhance the sustainability and productivity of Oregon’s agricultural crops.