Irrigation & Soil Moisture Measurement

We provide independent expert irrigation advice to help farmers and growers maximise their water allocation. We offer a comprehensive range of irrigation management solutions to help you monitor your water use, optimise your irrigation system and improve your water use efficiency.

Whether you have a small farm, orchard or vineyard or you’re looking to implement a large-scale irrigation scheme, we have the experience and expertise to get your land growing.

We also work closely with local and regional authorities to prepare practical and workable irrigation guidelines – so we understand exactly what you need to do to make the most of your water allocation.


Irrigation Management

Irrigation management is an integrated process to ensure water for agriculture is used efficiently and effectively at all times.

As irrigation water demand increases, farmers and growers face the challenge of ensuring that their irrigation systems are profitable, sustainable and practical. Through proven modelling approaches and practical monitoring strategies, we can work with you to develop an appropriate soil moisture monitoring regime that maximises production and water use efficiency.

Our comprehensive irrigation management service helps you:

  • Keep accurate soil moisture data to demonstrate your water requirements and comply with consents

  • Maximise productivity

  • Optimise water use — now and into the future

Soil Moisture Monitoring

Our dedicated soil moisture monitoring service is designed to maximise the potential of your allocated water take and minimise water wastage. By directly measuring soil moisture on-site (rather than relying on algorithms), we can help you understand and monitor what is happening in the field right now, as well as provide reliable forecasting to help you schedule future irrigation events and optimise crop growth.

Telemetered Soil Moisture Sensors

These provide the grower with continuous, accurate and representative soil moisture measurements in real time to enable optimal irrigation scheduling based on crop water usage, soil moisture, soil temperature and climate monitoring.

Continuous soil moisture data is key — this will enable you to observe the effects of irrigation and rainfall events, hot dry days, etc. and to proactively manage your irrigation.

In order to achieve that ‘accurate and representative data’ above there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Sensor selection — what type of soil moisture sensor is most suitable for the application?

  • Site selection — selection of a site representative of the area to be irrigated is vital

  • Number of sensors — closely related to site selection, how many soil types, what area does each account for, how many irrigators etc.?

  • Installation — How should the sensors be installed?

When it comes to soil moisture sensors it is definitely not a case of one size fits all. All sensors are different and have different attributes, strengths, and weaknesses. Crop type, rooting depth, soil type, and many other parameters determine which sensor is the best fit for the application. Sometimes regularly updating a simple soil water balance may be the most appropriate option but it does involve working with more data.


Selection of a representative site is crucial as soil moisture can vary significantly over very small distances. This requires some work (to determine topographical information, soil type and characteristics etc.) and a site visit with the farmer to ensure representative and appropriate sites are selected and avoid any old tracks, tree lines, water races.

More is not necessarily better when it comes to soil moisture sensors. A few sensors in representative locations that provide the ‘representative data’ mentioned above is the ideal. Ideally there should be at least one sensor in each soil type (provided it makes up a significant percentage of the total area) and under every irrigator.

Wherever possible soil moisture sensors should be installed in undisturbed soil to reduce or eliminate any settling time.

An irrigation strategy based on robust soil moisture measurements can provide significant operational and environmental benefits, especially around the reduction of nutrient leaching of nutrients.

You can access your soil moisture measurements using a computer or smartphone via our myIrrigation service and our irrigation management experts are always available to provide advice.

Irrigation Management Tools

We work with a range of easy-to-use monitoring tools that you can use to access your water and soil data at the touch of a button and manage your irrigation in real time. Use myIrrigation to review soil moisture levels and adjust your irrigation schedule and get to know your catchment with MyCatchment and Irrimap.

Find out more about our
monitoring tools

Irrigation Design

Effective irrigation management begins with a well-designed irrigation system — one that is efficient, cost-effective and code compliant. The key to good irrigation design is to engineer systems that apply water uniformly, and at the correct depth, frequency, and rate, to provide optimum crop production while minimising waste, particularly via drainage through the soil profile. Minimising drainage is critical for reducing nutrient leaching and maintaining the quality of receiving waters — which keeps you compliant with your consent conditions, too.

If you’re looking to develop a new irrigation system (whether on-farm or a larger irrigation scheme) or increase the efficiency of an existing one, or you’d like an independent peer review of your proposed system, our irrigation design team have the experience and expertise to help.

Getting your irrigation design right gets you off to a great start, and soil moisture monitoring is essential for effective irrigation. However, your irrigation system also requires regular monitoring to check that it is delivering water evenly and efficiently to your irrigated land. A bucket test during spring can confirm that your irrigators are in good shape for the growing season ahead. Spring is also a good time to check for leaks and wear and tear so that you know you are maximising water delivery to your land.

To find out more about how we help optimise your irrigation system, talk to our design experts today

Irrigation Schemes

Irrigation scheme owners and operators face the challenge of getting the fundamentals right in a resource management environment that grows more complex every year. Managing this challenge requires expert input from a wide range of specialists, including agricultural, technical, legal, commercial and environmental experts.

We provide independent advice on a range of existing irrigation scheme aspects, including:

  • Assessing irrigation demand to refine or expand the irrigated area

  • Weighing the pros and cons of different options, such as piping open race systems or converting border-dyke irrigation to spray irrigation

  • Balancing the scheme’s supply, demand and storage requirements to achieve reliability

    We also provide advice and support for the development of new irrigation schemes, including:

    • Preparing proposals for funding support

    • Conducting pre-feasibility and full-feasibility studies

    • Delivering an independent peer review of scheme investigations and proposals

    • Designing the scheme, managing the tendering process and obtaining resource consents

Work with Us

Protecting the quality of New Zealand’s water and land is central to the productivity of our primary industries — and knowing which questions to ask about a proposed effluent discharge makes all the difference when balancing economic and business success with water quality and environmental protection.

With our background of providing professional advice, conducting reliable feasibility studies and delivering expert peer review, we can provide the support your organisation needs to develop new land treatment and wastewater disposal solutions that protect groundwater quality.

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