See tips on getting the most out of your soil moisture sensors to increase water-use efficiency in Florida soils.

Soil moisture sensors are one of the best options for maximizing water-use efficiency. A Citrus Industry article written by two UF/IFAS assistant professors and an Extension citrus agent shares tips to help get the most out of your soil moisture sensors. See highlights below.

Tips for Soil Moisture Sensors

The article breaks the tips down by categories. They include:

Installation Tips

  • “When installing sensors in the root zone, it is important to place them within a 1- to 1.5-foot radius of the irrigated zone to make sure the sensor is reporting accurate information.”
  • “To ensure nutrients are not being leached beyond the root zone, it is highly important to install one or more sensors at 18- or 20-inch depths or deeper to show any changes in soil moisture.”
  • “It is preferred to install the sensors after a rain event or in a well-watered soil to reduce the influence of air gaps.”

Reading the Data

  • Soil moisture data provides an indirect measurement of the water that a soil can hold. For sandy soils, the soil water-holding capacity is represented by a small range…that indicates a need for frequent short-time irrigations [Line graph with plots]. If the data provided is in bars or other energy units, the user might be dealing with tensiometric sensors. These sensors provide soil moisture as suction or matric potential due to capillarity.”


  • Sometimes sensors fail in the field as a result of poor connection, wild animals or damage from herbicides or spray equipment. Thus, it is a good idea to keep an eye on sensors from time to time to make sure the information is being provided in a timely fashion.”
  • “If a cable is damaged, order a replacement cable from the sensor provider.”
  • “If a data logger is wet due to heavy rain, repair the unit and secure it carefully when installed.”
  • “Marking the ends of the rows where sensors are located can serve as a visual reminder for equipment operators to use caution.”

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