Freshwater is a finite resource that requires vigilant management to ensure it is available for generations to come. One of the largest anthropomorphic sinks of freshwater is irrigation, whether in commercial fields, golf courses, or residential lawns and gardens. The key to conserving water is decision-making based on plant water needs and soil water availability. Although significant progress has been made estimating water loss from plants, the use of soil moisture measurements as an irrigation tool has lagged behind. There remains a need for a soil moisture sensor (SMS) that will combine accuracy and stability with low price to allow for greater field coverage.
Soil moisture sensing technology has been available to the irrigation market for years. However, its adoption into usage has been slow, possibly because of the poor measurement associated with some sensors and the high price of others. To be viable, an SMS must be accurate, reliable, and affordable to the end user. The goal of this study was to develop and test a low-cost SMS and to evaluate its viability for use in the irrigation market.
Campbell, Colin S. “Response of the ECH2O soil moisture probe to variation in water content, soil type, and solution electrical conductivity.” Application note, METER, 2001. Article link.
Campbell, Jeffrey E. “Dielectric properties and influence of conductivity in soils at one to fifty megahertz.” Soil Science Society of America Journal 54, no. 2 (1990): 332-341. Article link.
Cobos, Doug R. “Calibrating ECH2O soil moisture sensors.” Application note, METER, Inc., 2006. Article link.
Starr, J. L., and I. C. Paltineanu. “Methods for measurement of soil water content: capacitance devices.” Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 4 (2002). Article link.
Topp, G.C., and T.P.A. Ferre. “The Soil solution phase.” Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 4 (2002): 417-1074
U.S. Salinity Laboratory Staff. “Diagnosis and improvement of saline and alkali soils.” USDA Handbook 60 ed. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (1954).
Six short videos teach you everything you need to know about soil water content and soil water potential—and why you should measure them together. Plus, master the basics of soil hydraulic conductivity.
Watch it now—>