We monitor soil conditions in Otago for better irrigation, effluent management, and drought/flood awareness, continuously improving our network.

We have a network of soil microclimate sites in the region equipped with soil moisture and temperature probes and rainfall gauges. Live data is broadcast to the Environmental Data Portal, and can be used to decide when to irrigate or apply effluent and to monitor drought and flooding potential. We are currently expanding and improving the network.


Figure displaying the different types and uses of the information collected by the soil microclimate sites.

Soil moisture

The moisture level of soil is the amount of water present in soil pores. Knowing the level of soil moisture means we can monitor the risk of drought and floods, and land managers can choose the best times to irrigate and apply effluent.

Visit the Enviornmental Data Portal (envdata.orc.govt.nz) to view current soil moisture levels in Otago.

Soil temperature

The soil's temperature determines the rate of plant growth, chemical reactions and the activity of microorganisms. For example, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are highly influenced by soil temperature. You can optimise your timing for cultivating crops and applying nutrients if you track soil temperatures.

See current soil temperature levels in Otago

Grass growth generally increases above a soil temperature of 5-8°C, depending on the grass type. Below this temperature, the pasture will be dormant and any nitrogen applied as fertiliser will not affect growth. It is critical to monitor soil temperature to maximise the return on the investment of fertiliser and minimise nitrogen leaching loss.


Rainfall gauges give the total rainfall that has fallen in the past hour. Knowing the past amount of rainfall and its interaction with soil moisture can be a helpful reference for management practices, such as irrigation.

See past rainfall in Otago

If you apply fertiliser and effluent, graze animals and work the soil after high rainfall, it is more likely the soil will degrade and nutrients and topsoil will be lost to waterbodies.


Information on the Environmental Data Portal should be treated as guidance only, and it may not reflect the conditions and soil types on your land. Please use your own judgement in managing your property 

EDP on ORC: https://envdata.orc.govt.nz/AQWebPortal/Data