SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — CropX, a leading Ag analytics and soil sensing company, released results of a multiyear study on the impact of soil sensor geometry and installation method on moisture readings and irrigation. The study found that spiral sensor designs deliver the best accuracy.
“The occurrence of preferential flow in soil is well documented,” noted Guy Sela, CropX VP of Agronomy. “The geometry of the soil sensor and the installation method greatly affect the accuracy of soil moisture readings as most sensors relay information based on preferential flow rather than the true moisture level in the soil. Spiral sensors offer the most accurate view of the actual moisture content of undisturbed soil in the field.”
The study modeled the formation of preferential flow pathways around sensors with different geometries and quantified the difference between the soil moisture in undisturbed soil and the soil moisture reported by the sensors. Across different soil types (e.g., loamy, sandy, silty), soil depths and irrigation amounts/intervals, the study found that spiral sensors moisture readings mapped most closely to undisturbed soil.
Key findings include:
– Spiral sensors agreed most closely with undisturbed soil moisture readings after irrigation;
– Tube and fork sensors exhibited a false “spike” in moisture readings immediately following irrigation compared to undisturbed soil;
– The disturbed soil near the tube and fork sensors also caused the average moisture (moisture between irrigation events) to rise after each irrigation event – leading to erroneous moisture readings – up to 10 percent higher volumetric water content (VWC) than the actual soil moisture;
– Tube and fork sensors’ tendency to overestimate the actual soil moisture increased with higher amounts of water;
– The accuracy of tube and fork sensors decreases when large amounts of water are used for irrigation, regardless of soil properties; and
– Spiral sensors outperformed other designs, reporting accurate moisture readings during and between irrigations with no significant deviation based on the amount of water used.
“Spiral sensors offer the most accurate view of the actual moisture content of undisturbed soil in the field – reflecting the true moisture conditions across varying soil types and irrigation events,” added Sela. “It is time for the industry to recognize the critical role of spiral sensors for the next era of smart irrigation and soil health.”
Download, “Does the Geometry of Soil Moisture Probes Affect Their Accuracy” for complete details here.
The easy-to-install spiral soil sensors from CropX deliver more accurate readings than traditional soil sensors by eliminating soil disruption and preventing preferential flow. Giving farmers accurate soil readings at three depths, all CropX sensors are backed by its comprehensive soil intelligence platform and proven cloud-based Ag analytics software. For more details, please visit https://cropx.com/technology
CropX, a global Ag analytics company backed by a world-class syndicate of strategic partners and investors, aims to revolutionize and automate the entire farm management process by combining above-ground data sets with accurate, real-time soil data. Its proprietary cloud platform delivers the AI-based soil sensor insights and automations farmers need to dramatically increase crop yield and reduce water, fertilization and energy costs. Commercially launched in 2017, CropX soil sensors are now installed across 8,500 sites by more than 1,200 customers around the globe and have driven an average of 40 percent water savings across different crop types and 10 percent yield increases. Learn more at www.cropx.com.