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This NebGuide provides a guide to determining how much mositure is in different soil textures, and where it is located in the soil profile.
Evaluating soil moisture is one of an irrigator's most important management tools. Determining the status of the soil moisture reservoir guides the decision of not only how much to irrigate, but also when to irrigate. The "appearance and feel" method of monitoring soil moisture using a soil probe is still a valid procedure no matter how sophisticated the irrigation scheduling system. A measurement of soil moisture is essential to update knowledge of the need for and timing of irrigation, and the "appearance and feel" method can be used to obtain that information.
In addition to indicating how much moisture is in the soil, this method also reveals where that moisture is located in the profile. This information is important to the irrigator as well as the dryland farmer. The depth of water penetration from irrigation or rainfall is useful in planning and making management decisions. For example, problem areas with compacted soil layers that restrict water penetration may be detected with the soil probe.