Designing low-cost soil moisture sensors for greenhouse irrigation management

Precise and quick estimates of soil moisture content for the purpose of irrigation scheduling are fundamentally important. They can be accomplished through the continuous monitoring of moisture content in the root zone area, which can be accomplished through automatic soil moisture sensors. Commercial soil moisture sensors are still expensive for farmers to use, particularly in developing countries, such as Egypt.

This research aimed to design and calibrate a locally manufactured low-cost soil moisture sensor attached to a smart monitoring unit operated by Solar Photo Voltaic Cells (SPVC). The designed sensor was evaluated on clay textured soils in both lab and controlled greenhouse environments. The calibration results demonstrated a strong correlation between sensor readings and soil volumetric water content (qV).

Higher soil moisture content was associated with decreased sensor output voltage with an average determination coefficient (R2) of 0.967 and a root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 0.014. A sensor-to-sensor variability test was performed yielding a 0.045 coefficient of variation. The results obtained from the real conditions demonstrated that the monitoring system for real-time sensing of soil moisture and environmental conditions inside the greenhouse could be a robust, accurate, and cost-effective tool for irrigation management.

Read the complete research at

Okasha, Abdelaziz & Ibrahim, Hasnaa & El-Metwalli, Adel & Khedher, Khaled & Yaseen, Zaher & Elsayed, Salah. (2021). Designing Low-Cost Capacitive-Based Soil Moisture Sensor and Smart Monitoring Unit Operated by Solar Cells for Greenhouse Irrigation Management. Sensors. 21. 20. 10.3390/s21165387. 

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