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Soil moisture sensors for continuous monitoring

January 1, 1995

Certain physical and chemical properties of soil vary with soil water content. The relationship between these properties and water content is complex and involves both the pore structure and constituents of the soil solution. One of the most economical techniques to quantify soil water content involves the measurement of electrical resistance of a dielectric medium that is in equilibrium with the soil water content. The objective of this research was to test the reliability and accuracy of fiberglass soil-moisture electrical resistance sensors (ERS) as compared to gravimetric sampling and Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR). The response of the ERS was compared to gravimetric measurements at eight locations on the USDA-ABS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed. The comparisons with TDR sensors were made at three additional locations on the same watershed. The high soil rock content (>45 percent) at seven locations resulted in consistent overestimation of soil water content by the ERS method. Where rock content was less than 10 percent, estimation of soil water was within 5 percent of the gravimetric soil water content. New methodology to calibrate the ERS sensors for rocky soils will need to be developed before soil water content values can be determined with these sensors. (KEY TERMS: soil moisture; soil water; infiltration; instrumentation; soil moisture sensors.)

Citation Information

Publication Year 1995
Title Soil moisture sensors for continuous monitoring
DOI 10.1111/j.1752-1688.1994.tb03274.x
Authors Saud A. Amer, T. O. Keefer, M.A. Weltz, David C. Goodrich, Leslie Bach
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Series Number
Index ID 70187027
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center