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Time to Pull Moisture Meters, ET Gages from Fields

With most irrigation finished for the season and harvest around the corner, this is an ideal time to pull Watermark sensors and ET Gages, advise Aaron Nygren and Gary Zoubek of the University of Nebraska. 

When pulling Watermark sensors (seen above), take your time if they don't come out easily. Problems arise most often with the third- or fourth-foot sensors, especially on soil textures with high clay content, Nygren explains.

To make the job easier, remove sensors shortly after a rain or by adding water, digging down beside the sensor, and using a manufactured puller. After removal, wash the sensors off for storage. Heated storage is not necessary since the sensors aren't damaged by freezing temperatures.

Be sure to mark any sensors that have been giving strange readings and may need to be replaced.

Finally, take note of the location of the sensors, Zoubek adds. If the area represented the rest of the field well during the year, make plans to install sensors in the same location next spring.

If you used ET Gages to help schedule your irrigation, remember to put them away before the first hard freeze to avoid breaking the ceramic top, Nygren warns. 

Also, now is a good time to replace either the wafer and canvas cover on ceramic tops so your ET Gage is ready to go next spring. Nygren recommends replacing the wafer and canvas cover every year to ensure accurate readings.

As with the Watermark sensors, take note of whether the location of your ET Gage gave you good readings over the season, Zoubek points out.

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