Nebraska happens to be at the wrong latitude for growing malted barley. Our winters are typically too cold and dry for winter barley. The extreme cold temperatures cause the moisture within the dormant plants to freeze and rupture cell walls, resulting in winter kill. Spring barley doesn’t do much better when it comes to satisfying quality standards for malting. Late spring and early summer temperatures get too hot for Spring barley; temperatures in excess of 90 degrees can affect seed viability. Without viable seed, sprouting for malting is not reliable or consistent.
Soil health practices such as cover crops and high residue management are expected to buffer temperature extremes. The Dyacon weather stations installed for this project will help us compare and monitor soil moisture and temperature.
Last week we were visited by Eugene Bodrero from Dyacon to help set up the final weather station and provide some training with operating the systems. Dyacon is working with AquaCheck USA to configure multi-depth soil temperature and moisture probes to transmit data through their weather station. This information will allow us to not only monitor the surface soil temperature but also monitor how effective precipitation gets into the soil profile.
The AquaCheck probes are typically used for irrigation management. However, according to Brad Rathje of AquaCheck, the probes are being used in other dryland cropping environments to manage tile drainage. Our project would be one of the first to evaluate and promote dryland conservation tillage and residue management.