(303) Performance of a New, Low-cost Soil Moisture, Temperature, and Electrical Conductivity Sensor

in HortScience
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  • 1 Decagon Devices, Inc., Research and Development, Pullman, WA, 99163

Knowledge of soil water, fertilizer, and temperature is important when growing plants in any type of growing media. Although instruments to measure these properties have been available for several years, they are often expensive, failure-prone, and require different calibration for individual soil types. Recently, a low-cost sensor (Trade name: ECH2O-TE) was released that measures volumetric water content, electrical conductivity (EC), and temperature. The objective of this study was to determine how the probe performed in various soil and soilless media, as well as various salinities. We found the probe performed very well over a wide range of soil types and salinities. From the data, it appears that a single calibration can be used for all mineral soils and organic potting soils. A second calibration equation may be required for substrates such as rockwool. The output of the probe was not affected by the salinity (EC) of the soil from 0.1 to greater than 10 dS/m and showed considerable improvement in temperature sensitivity compared to existing technology. These results suggest the sensor provides a low-cost, reliable, easier-to-use alternative to other sensors of its kind.

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