Biological Systems Engineering, Department of


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Published in Irrigation Science 26 (2008), pp. 191–202; doi 10.1007/s00271-007-0085-9 Copyright © Springer-Verlag 2007. Used by permission.


Weighing lysimeters are the standard method for directly measuring evapotranspiration (ET). This paper discusses the construction, installation, and performance of two (1.52 m × 1.52 m × 2.13-m deep) repacked weighing lysimeters for measuring ET of corn and soybean in West Central Nebraska. The cost of constructing and installing each lysimeter was approximately US $12,500, which could vary depending on the availability and cost of equipment and labor. The resolution of the lysimeters was 0.0001 mV V-1, which was limited by the data processing and storage resolution of the datalogger. This resolution was equivalent to 0.064 and 0.078 mm of ET for the north and south lysimeters, respectively. Since the percent measurement error decreases with the magnitude of the ET measured, this resolution is adequate for measuring ET for daily and longer periods, but not for shorter time steps. This resolution would result in measurement errors of less than 5% for measuring ET values of ≥3 mm, but the percent error rapidly increases for lower ET values. The resolution of the lysimeters could potentially be improved by choosing a datalogger that could process and store data with a higher resolution than the one used in this study.