How to Install the Soil Moisture Sensor by Field and Crop Type
The ALTA Soil Moisture Sensor is suited for five different types of installations. These installations vary based on crop type and planting scheme. This article goes into detail about how to install your sensors according to type. The five installation types are:
- Row Crops
- Vines on Drip Systems
- Center Pivot Watering
- Greenhouses/Large Pots
Soil Moisture Sensor Installation for Row Crops
- Install the sensor three to four plants or vines in from the road or path to avoid traffic damage.
- Place the sensor in the active root system area in a plant row.
- Monnit recommends you place two or more soil moisture sensors per location in deeper rooting crops and set the sensor probes shallow and then progressively deeper for more accurate monitoring. See the chart at the end of this article for recommended depths based on crop type.
Soil Moisture Sensor Installation in Orchards
- Label or mark each riser with the appropriate depth for each probe.
- Place the sensor near a tree’s dripline on its Southwest side (if planted in the Northern Hemisphere).
- Install the sensor at the tree canopy’s dripline and 12 to 18 inches from an emitter, 24 to 36 inches from a micro-sprinkler, or in the wetted area of a conventional sprinkler.
- Set the sensor in an active root system area in a tree row.
Soil Moisture Sensor Installation for Vines on Drip Systems
- Install sensors three to four vines in from a road or path to avoid traffic damage.
- Install sensors within the active vine-root zone and in a vine row.
- Use short (shallow), medium, and long (deep) sensors in 18 inches or deeper vine-root systems. See the chart at the end of this article for recommended depths based on crop type.
Soil Moisture Sensor Installation for Center Pivot Watering Systems
A = Between Towers 2 and 3
B = Between Towers 4 and 5
C = Between Towers 6 and 7
D = Between Towers 8 and 9
G = Between Towers 3 and 4 (Starting Position)
H = Between Towers 7 and 8 (Starting Position)
I = Between Towers 3 and 4 (Finish Position)
J = Between Towers 7 and 8 (Finish Position)
E and K = “Hot Spot” - Lightest Soil - Quickest to Dry
F and L = Best Production Area in Field
- Set shallow sensors at approx. 25% of the crop-root depth.
- Set deep sensors at approx. 75% of the crop-root depth.
- Place the sensors near the start and finish positions a few sprinkler diameters away from the actual start/finish line.
Soil Moisture Sensor Installation for Greenhouses/Large Pots
- Position the sensor probe tip in the root mass area, usually halfway down the pot.
- Place the sensor within a drier area of the container.
- Flag or label the container you monitor for easy identification.
The Soil Moisture Sensor can be used in large pots, but is not well suited for small pots or for use in potting soil. Potting soil tends to be too loose for this sensor to work properly.
Suggested Placement Depths for Soil Probe by Crop Type
The following are suggested placement depths for various crops based on deep well-drained soils. In lighter or shallow soils, place instruments accordingly or set them at an angle. With drip or trickle irrigation 12" and 24" depths are recommended.