Sophia Burke has a PhD in hydrology specialising in impact of drought and climate change and has worked for a flood engineering consultancy and for international sustainable development programmes. Sophia now works for AmbioTEK CIC, a not-for-profit that develops software and hardware to better monitor and manage water and natural hazards, including droughts and floods. It has co-developed a series of high quality, low cost environmental monitoring equipment with Kings College London, monitoring weather, stream water level, soil moisture and water quality sensors and the data are sent hourly to our website. Many of these sensors have a wide range of applications for farming. They are straightforward to build and instructions and parts lists are published online.
We have installed these to investigate the soil moisture response to rainfall on a number of Conservation Agriculture (CA) farms compared to neighbouring farms under normal tillage, and found that soil moisture varied with rainfall in the CA, whereas the non-CA soils were less responsive to rainfall. This may mean that more rainfall is likely to infiltrate CA soils which could mean CA could increase soil water storage to mitigate flood events, improve infiltration for groundwater resources and reduce runoff and therefore soil erosion.