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Soil moisture on the decline

Significant drop seen from July to August

Published: Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CHAMPAIGN – Soil moisture continued to decline across Illinois.

Levels at a depth of two inches measured 27 percent lower on Aug. 15 than those from July 15, said Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring program manager at the Prairie Research Institute, Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

Soil moisture in the state averaged 0.17 water fraction by volume (wfv) at depths of two inches on Aug. 15, which is significantly lower than the historical average of 0.25 wfv.  Levels dropped throughout the state, with central Illinois having the lowest numbers, averaging 0.14 wfv, or just at the wilting point for most soils measured.

Levels also declined at the deeper depths, with a statewide average of 0.23 wfv at 20 inches, a 37 percent decline from July 15.

Soil temperatures have declined slightly over the past month. Temperatures at depths of four inches measured under bare soil and averaged 77.4 degrees Fahrenheit statewide, 5 degrees less than on July 15. Declines were also seen at measurements made under sod with averages of 75.8 degrees and 74.6 degrees at depths of four and eight inches, respectively. 

The Illinois State Water Survey’s WARM program collects hourly and daily weather and soil information at 19 stations across the state. Daily and monthly summaries can be found at

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