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Networks

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Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan monitoring stations were established west of Kenaston, or about 100 km south of Saskatoon, which is part of Canada's Prairies/Boreal Plains Ecozones. The network of stations was installed in 2011 by AAFC to supplement an existing network established by Environment Canada (EC) and the University of Guelph. The EC-Guelph network supports a variety of hydrological, land surface modelling and satellite data validation research.

The AAFC sites were installed on four pasture sites to supplement the existing EC-Guelph sites that are installed primarily on annual cropland. Cereals, canola and peas are typically grown in this area. The Saskatchewan network stations record meteorological observations including precipitation, air temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed. The soil sensors measure the real dielectric permittivity, soil moisture and soil temperature using Stevens Hydra Probe sensors at surface (0-5cm), 5cm, 20cm, 50cm, 100cm and 150 cm depths. Three hydra probe sensors, or replicas, were installed at each depth, except for 100cm and 150cm where only two sensors were installed. This replication provides a measurement of spatial variability in soil moisture, and redundancy in the event of sensor malfunction.

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Manitoba

The Manitoba monitoring stations were established in three phases; nine stations were installed near the towns of Carman and Elm Creek, located 80 km southwest of the city of Winnipeg in 2011; three other stations were installed in the Sturgeon Creek watershed in 2013, located immediately northwest of Winnipeg and; three stations were installed northwest of the town of Carberry in 2015.

The stations in Carman-Elm Creek are situated in the La Salle and Boyne River watersheds which are part of the larger Red River basin. The Sturgeon Creek watershed is part of the larger Assiniboine River basin. These areas are part of Canada’s Prairie/Boreal Plain Ecozones and were chosen to capture the diverse soil moisture conditions in the Manitoba portion of the Red River and lower Assiniboine River basins. Annual crops that are typically grown in this area include cereals, canola, corn, soybeans and edible beans.

The stations in the Carberry area fall within the Assiniboine River basin. Soils at this site are primarily sandy textured deltaic deposits on slightly undulating landscapes. The Assiniboine Delta aquifer provides a source of irrigation water for potato crops that are grown extensively in this area along with cereals, canola, corn and soybeans. The stations were installed to support irrigation studies from the Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre located in Carberry.

The Manitoba network stations record meteorological observations including precipitation, air temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed. The soil sensors measure the real dielectric permittivity, soil moisture and soil temperature using Stevens Hydra Probe sensors at surface (0-5cm), 5cm, 20cm, 50cm, and 100cm depths. Three hydra probe sensors, or replicas, were installed at each depth. This replication provides a measurement of spatial variability in soil moisture, and redundancy in the event of sensor malfunction.

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Ontario

The Ontario monitoring stations were established in 2010 and 2011 by Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada (AAFC) at a site of ongoing research for the development and validation of soil moisture retrieval models from active microwave satellites. The network is situated near Casselman about 50 km east of Ottawa, in Canada's Mixedwood Plains Ecozone. The specific location of each station was selected based on soil texture variability across the general site, as well as variability at the field level. In the fall of 2015, the ON1 station was discontinued and a new station, labelled ON6, was installed northwest of ON1 within the same type of soil texture. One additional station is located over AAFC's Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa.

The Ontario stations are installed at the edge of agricultural fields cultivated with annual crops, generally of corn or soybean. The deeper (50 cm) soil moisture sensors are located in the field, about 5-10 m away from the edge, while the shallow sensors are located at the edge of the field to avoid interfering with farming operations.

The Ontario network stations record precipitation data using a tipping bucket rain gauge in addition to real dielectric permittivity, soil moisture and soil temperature using Stevens Hydra Probe sensors at surface (0-5 cm), 5 cm, 20 cm and 50 cm. The Ontario site is characterized by a high water table and unlike the Manitoba and Saskatchewan networks, the 100 cm sensors could not be installed. Three hydra probe sensors, or replicas, were installed at each depth. This replication provides a measurement of spatial variability in soil moisture, and redundancy in the event of sensor malfunction.

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