Research Project

Soil Moisture Monitoring Showcase

Investigators: Jacob Rix, Himmy Lo, Drew Gholson

Date: 2021

Project Summary


Soil moisture sensors provide science-based information about the amount of soil water available to the crop, which can help farmers forecast and finalize decisions about irrigation scheduling. When soil moisture sensors were first promoted, minimizing capital costs tended to be the chief priority. Measurements were collected by physically connecting a handheld device to one sensor at a time across the entire farm. Over the years, convenience has emerged as arguably the top concern. Adopters of soil moisture sensors are interested in telemetry, accessing automatically collected data anytime and anywhere through the Internet from their smart phones, tablets, and computers. Consequently, MSU Extension has been receiving an increasing number of questions related to choosing and using soil moisture telemetry services. However, there was a scarcity of objective resources covering the diversity of the soil moisture telemetry services from which customers can select. Learning about and comparing these telemetry services were difficult for farmers and Extension professionals alike. A new Extension program was necessary to educate our clients directly and to enhance Extension’s readiness to offer relevant technical assistance.


The NCAAR Soil Moisture Monitoring Showcase was launched in 2020 to address this important need. In 2021, the showcase partnered with seven Mid-South vendors: Enviro- Solutions, GroGuru, High Yield Ag Solutions, Irrometer, PrecisionKing, Trellis, and Vantage South. These vendors generously loaned out 12 distinct soil moisture monitoring systems, all of which were installed in the same 2-acre field at the West Farm of Delta Research and Extension Center (Figures 1 and 2) and presented on the NCAAR website. An especially valuable feature of the Showcase is enabling visitors to explore on their own the user interface of each soil moisture telemetry service. With the user names and passwords posted on the Showcase web pages, visitors can log in for free—as if they were subscribers—to experience the look and feel of every interface. Additionally, each sensor type in the Showcase is briefly described, and its compatible telemetry services are listed side by side along with answers to common questions. Please go to index.php#showcaseto try this feature! As another engaging way to introduce visitors to the different soil moisture telemetry services, a two-minute walk through video was created for each telemetry service to give an overview of the associated hardware and user interface. Please go to https://www. 60vEERrnF-gm0Tje for the complete playlist. Despite the unique circumstances of 2020 and 2021, the Soil Moisture Monitoring Showcase reached thousands of individuals in the Delta and around the world through its web pages and videos. Noting this accomplishment, the development of online content will continue to be a key part of Extension efforts at NCAAR.

Ongoing Research

Past investigation in the Delta revealed that, even within a presumably homogeneous area, multiple replicates of the same sensor type can report substantially different soil moisture values. Therefore, an individual sensor or sensor set—however carefully sited and installed— might not always represent accurately the average condition of the field where it is located. Such sensor-to-sensor variability of four soil moisture sensor types is being assessed (Figure 3). The forthcoming findings will be incorporated into MSU Extension recommendations on sensor selection and interpretation to increase farmer success with scheduling irrigation using soil moisture sensors.

Project Photos
Soil Moisture Monitoring Showcase
  • Topic:
  • Decision
  • Irrigation
  • Irrigation Scheduling

Contact NCAAR

General Information
Kaye Sullivan

Showcase Demo
Drew Gholson, Coordinator
Himmy Lo