Before you go to the field
—Before selecting a site, clearly define your goals for gathering data so you know where to put your sensors.
—Understand variability factors at your site, such as slope, aspect, vegetation type, depth, soil type, and soil density and deploy accordingly. If studying a canopy, understand the heterogeneity of the plant cover.
—Make sure you budget for enough sensors to capture variability.
—Make a site plan with a map.
—If using cellular data loggers like the ZL6, make sure your site has cell coverage.
—Read sensor and logger manuals and watch installation videos.
—Test sensors and data loggers in the lab.
—Prepare a checklist of plausible readings for each sensor.
—If your data logger requires programming, learn the programming language at least 2 weeks before going to the field.
—Work out what tools you’ll need.
—Prepare a dedicated installation toolbox filled with important tools such as zip ties, pliers, markers, flashlights, and batteries.
—Remember that installation usually takes twice as long as you think it will, so plan your site visit accordingly.
—Have a backup plan for things that might go wrong (i.e., your soil is too rocky at the intended installation depth).
—Make sure your data will be accessible. Plan to use cloud data management software such as ZENTRA Cloud so you can look at the data as often as possible to be sure everything is working correctly.