Performance of Hydra Probe and MPS-1 Soil Water Sensors in Topsoil Tested in Lab and Field


Soil water sensors are commonly used to monitor water content and matric potential in order to study hydrological processes such as evaporation. Finding a proper sensor is sometimes difficult, especially for measurements in topsoil, where changes of temperature and soil water dynamics occur generally with greater intensity compared to deeper soil layers. We assessed the perfor-mance of Hydra Probe water content sensors and MPS-1 matric potential sensors in topsoil in the laboratory and in the field. A common soil-specific calibration function was determined for the Hydra Probes. Measurement accuracy and sensor-to-sensor variation were within the manufacturer specification of ±0.03 m3·m-3. Hydra Probes can operate from dry to saturated conditions. Sensor-specific calibrations from a previous study were used to reduce sensor-to-sensor variation of MPS-1. Measurement accuracy can be expressed by a mean relative error of 10%. According to the manufacturer, the application range of matric potential readings is from -10 kPa to -500 kPa. MPS-1 delivered also values beyond this range, but they were not reliable. Sensor electronics of the MPS-1 were sensitive to ambient temperature changes. Beyond instrument effects, field measurements showed substantial temperature-driven fluctuations of soil water content and matric potential, which complicated data interpretation.

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Kammerer, G. , Nolz, R. , Rodny, M. and Loiskandl, W. (2014) Performance of Hydra Probe and MPS-1 Soil Water Sensors in Topsoil Tested in Lab and Field. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 1207-1219. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.613110.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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