Multisensor capacitance probes for simultaneously monitoring rice field soil-water- crop-ambient conditions
journal contributionposted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by James Brinkhoff, John HornbuckleJohn Hornbuckle, T Dowling
Multisensor capacitance probes (MCPs) have traditionally been used for soil moisture monitoring and irrigation scheduling. This paper presents a new application of these probes, namely the simultaneous monitoring of ponded water level, soil moisture, and temperature profile, conditions which are particularly important for rice crops in temperate growing regions and for rice grown with prolonged periods of drying. WiFi-based loggers are used to concurrently collect the data from the MCPs and ultrasonic distance sensors (giving an independent reading of water depth). Models are fit to MCP water depth vs volumetric water content (VWC) characteristics from laboratory measurements, variability from probe-to-probe is assessed, and the methodology is verified using measurements from a rice field throughout a growing season. The root-mean-squared error of the water depth calculated from MCP VWC over the rice growing season was 6.6 mm. MCPs are used to simultaneously monitor ponded water depth, soil moisture content when ponded water is drained, and temperatures in root, water, crop and ambient zones. The insulation effect of ponded water against cold-temperature effects is demonstrated with low and high water levels. The developed approach offers advantages in gaining the full soil-plant-atmosphere continuum in a single robust sensor.