Soil Moisture: Why Important, What Challenges, How to Measure & More

Soil moisture is a significant condition for plant growth. Too much or too little water can affect many aspects of plant growth, including plant morphology, photosynthesis, and crop yield. Through this article, you will learn:

• The importance of monitoring soil moisture
• What challenges do farmers face
• How to measure soil moisture

The importance of monitoring soil moisture

Plants photosynthesize and accumulate dry matter through the water supply. The amount of its accumulation will be directly reflected in the dynamic changes in plant height, stem diameter, leaf area, and yield.

To keep upright, leaves are supported by both cellulose and higher turgor pressure within the tissue. The drooping phenomenon that occurs when the plants lack water is a manifestation of reduced turgor pressure. The decrease in soil moisture will also result in a decrease in leaf water potential and an increase in stomatal resistance. This will eventually lead to increased leaf diffusion resistance, blocked CO2 diffusion, and reduced photosynthetic rate. Thus reducing the extractable sucrose concentration in mesophyll cells and the velocity of vertical flow in the sieve tube. In addition, the transport of assimilative material from the source leaf to the phloem will also reduce. However, too much water is not conducive to the transport of organic matter. This is mainly because too much water will cause poor soil aeration, which will affect respiration and other metabolic processes.

Moderate and slow water deficit will increase absolute root weight and inhibit growth and dry matter accumulation of aboveground parts. The yield per unit area will be lower, but it will favor dense planting, thus increasing the total yield. At the same time, a certain period of water deficit is beneficial to improve crop quality. Drought in the early stage can enhance drought resistance in the later stage. Mild drought resistance in the seedling stage can promote “compensation growth” of the root system and improve the drought resistance of plants.

What challenges do farmers face

  1. High cost: Checking soil moisture manually increases labor costs and operating cost
  2. Inaccurate data: Manual inspection results are often inaccurate and it is difficult to obtain real-time data on the entire farm
  3. Water waste & damage to crops: In the absence of real-time data, crops tend to have too much or too little water. This not only wastes water but also causes damage to crops. Without soil data for the whole farm, it’s also hard to know when is the best time to plant

How to measure soil moisture

There are many devices on the market that can test soil moisture values. In recent years, utilizing the power of real-time soil moisture data to reduce costs and improve crop conditions has gained more and more attention in smart agriculture. In addition to moisture, temperature and EC (electrical conductivity) are also very important indicators to measure soil health. 

SenseCAP S2104 is a high-accuracy LoRaWAN soil temperature and moisture sensor. 

SenseCAP S2105 is a 3-in-one high accuracy LoRaWAN sensor that can monitor soil EC (The measuring range is from 0 to 23 dS/m), moisture, and temperature in the soil at the same time.

SenseCAP S2104 and S2105 have been widely used in automatic irrigation systems, greenhouse control, fine agriculture, soil monitoring, and other scenarios because of the following advantages:

 Wide measuring range: it can detect temperature ranges from -40 to +80 °C and soil moisture range from 0 to 100%

 Industrial design: -40 ~ 85℃ operating temperature and IP66 rating, suitable for indoor, outdoor, and harsh environments such as high UV exposure, heavy rain, dusty conditions, etc. 

 Easy to deploy: Bluetooth configuration in 1 min, scan the QR code on the device, and finish the configuration work in just a few clicks

 Easily to get data: smooth data flow to cloud servers or other IoT data management platforms

 Low maintenance cost: ultra-low power consumption to support Max.10 years of battery life, and ultra-wide-transmission range of 2km in urban scenes and 10km in line of sight scenes

The video below will show you how easy to monitor the soil moisture with SenseCAP S210X

Here’s the newest video of the SenseCAP S210x Series unboxing and shows how to deploy in your area

Seeed SenseCAP S210X Series has been serving various vertical industries such as cold storage warehouse monitoring, smart poultry farming, autonomous greenhouse, smart durian planting, educational projects, etc. If you’re looking for a soil moisture sensor for your precision agriculture operation, click here to learn more about S2104 and S2105!

That’s it for this post. As always, we can’t wait to see what you make. Shoot us a tweet @seeedstudio, or let us know on LinkedInDiscord, or publish your project on our Project Hub on Hackster. Please be safe out there, be kind to one another, and we’ll see you next month with even more exciting news!

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July 2022