Soil Moisture Sensors Save Water and Money
Moisture sensors monitor water volume in the soil. They measure in real time how much water is present at the root zone where it matters most for the health and vitality of growing things.
Specific technologies vary, but all moisture sensors are designed to detect the electrical conductivity of the soil in the immediate vicinity. Because water increases conductivity, the electrical reading can be converted into moisture units to indicate how much water the soil is holding. Sensors can be programmed with lower and upper thresholds to establish optimum moisture levels that promote steady growth and prevent the rollercoaster of oversaturation and drying that stresses plants and leads to yellow or wilted leaves.
There are two basic types of sensors: manual versions and automatic ones. Both use a probe to measure moisture and provide a readout that removes the guesswork from watering by indicating how wet or dry the soil really is.?Manual sensors can be convenient for containers and very small gardens, because they allow you to take individual readings and determine whether or not to water.?Automatic sensors connect to the sprinkler system time clock or controller, where they will interrupt a scheduled watering cycle if soil moisture meets or exceeds the criteria you have established.
Soil composition, grade, topography, sunlight, shade and similar factors have a significant effect on how much moisture is retained in any given location. A well-designed system will incorporate multiple sensors buried at designated depths and positioned strategically throughout your landscape so that each zone receives precisely the moisture it needs to ensure turf, trees and plants thrive.
In addition to controlling sprinkler cycles and reducing water use, moisture sensors provide useful information that can help you and your landscaper make more informed decisions about what type of plantings are best suited to different areas of the landscape. Clustering plants with higher water requirements in one area and those with low water requirements in another can help you deliver the right amount of water while you reduce overall consumption.
According to the EPA, American households use up to 9 billion gallons of water for outdoor purposes, most of which is devoted to landscape maintenance. Research indicates soil moisture sensors can on average reduce water usage by 20% to 25% or more, so the judicious use of soil moisture sensors could reduce outdoor water consumption by 1.8 to 2.25 billion gallons each year.
Studies conducted in Florida found soil moisture sensors were one of the easiest, most effective and most affordable ways to reduce residential consumption, and savings associated with reduced water usage often allowed homeowners to recoup the cost of the sensor system in 12 months or less.