Soil Moisture Sensors

Must-Have Data for Crops, Turf, and Landscaping

“Soil Moisture Sensors provide the data needed to make good decisions for your irrigation. Moisture levels and, on some models, temperature sensors, give our customers the data they need to protect their properties, from golf greens to agricultural crops to landscape management.” -Gerad Vanden Bussche

Vanden Bussche offers soil moisture sensors (SMS) from today’s top brands. (Netafim, Rain Bird, and more!) We love selling these hardware and software systems to help our clients maintain proper soil moisture so that their crops and plants can thrive. While some soil moisture sensors require installation at the time you put in your irrigation system, others come with portable or standalone options that are easy to install anywhere on the green, crop fields, large estates, or commercial properties. 

Keep in mind that some models are more difficult to get than others due to supply shortages. Therefore, it's important to work with your Vanden Bussche Irrigation sales representative to understand the options available to you and your customers.

Why Consider a Soil Moisture Sensor?

We procure SMS products for clients such as golf courses, parks, and agricultural operations. Our experts curate the products that would work best for your fields, turf, and plants. All products offered provide accurate data and advanced technology for precise readings in all types of soil, such as clay, sandy, and other compositions.

Whether you are a farmer or golf superintendent, soil moisture sensors allow you to reduce water waste and measure the accuracy of your pivot, sprinkler,  drip, or subsurface irrigation systems. They also work efficiently for large landholders, such as estates and commercial properties. Adding SMSs allows you to override prescheduled irrigation if your plants don't need water, resulting in better plant health and water management.

Benefits of SMS Include:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Easy to install during irrigation installation or anytime, with the right sensor
  • Rugged, weather-proof
  • Easy to integrate with your irrigation control
  • Available with solar or battery power, depending on make and model
  • Adaptable to all soil types
  • Real-time access via smartphone access (non-Wi-Fi versions available for remote locations)

How Many SMSs Should You Install?

The logical answer may be, as many as you can afford. However, we understand that you have a budget, and you must stay within that. Soil moisture sensors monitor the water content of the soil. For best results, it's important to install more than one unit. Here are a few suggestions to help mitigate costs without sacrificing utility: 

  • Install SMSs in the wettest and driest parts of the property.
  • If you can only purchase one, put it in the driest part of your golf course, agricultural field, or property.
  • The more sensors you install, the better information you will have to make effective irrigation decisions.

Volumetric Water Content (VWC)

Soil moisture sensors measure Volumetric Water Content (VWC). That’s how much water your soil can hold. You can measure water content through different types of soil moisture sensors including stationary or portable options as well as handheld units. Stationary sensors are placed at strategic points along your irrigation path regardless of your irrigation system setup. However, you can also install them with minimal disruptions on golf courses, lawns, and fields. You can find them in our online catalogue (page #93).

Different types of soil have optimal volumetric water content. VWC is measured as a percentage of saturation, usually inches of water per foot of soil. For example, 35% VWC is often ideal in clay soil. Adding more moisture can result in the leaching of nutrients and actually harm the plant.

Using Technology to Optimize Soil Moisture

When you tie an SMS into your irrigation automation, you can deliver water as needed across soil types to match the needs of individual fields, elevations, and other soil characteristics. Install soil moisture sensors if you want to increase yield or preserve turf and landscaping.

Here are just a few metrics you can get on mobile apps available with advanced systems:

  • Field Capacity: Soil moisture after excess water drains (usually measured two days following a significant wetting).
  • Permanent Wilting Point: Amount of soil moisture when the plant begins to wilt due to humidity. In this case, the plant roots can’t absorb moisture from the soil. (1500 kPa (15 bars) is the average.)
  • Available Soil Water: Soil moisture anywhere between permanent wilting point and field capacity. As a rule of thumb, begin overhead irrigation at 50% and drip irrigation at 80% of available soil water.

Soil moisture sensors come in subsurface, standalone, and portable options. Vanden Bussche Irrigation works with you to find the right SMS for you or your end clients. Contact us today to find out how this smart technology can save you time and money.