Wireless Soil-Moisture Sensors for Irrigation Control

Sensor-based controllers use on-site sensors, such as those that detect moisture, to determine whether the landscape requires irrigation. They can determine water needs for specific zones and thereby deliver only as much water as is needed to keep vegetation healthy. View full-size infographic. [PDF - 234 KB]

GPG Findings 021, April 2015, WIRELESS SOIL-MOISTURE SENSORS FOR IRRIGATION CONTROL. Opportunity: What is the federally mandated water reduction goal? 36% REDUCTION IN POTABLE WATER USE by 2025, compared to 2007 baseline. 37% OF UNITED STATESis experiencing drought conditions. 20-40% WATER SAVINGS with smart irrigation. Technology:How do WirelessMoisture Sensors work? MEASURE SOIL MOISTURE TO CALCULATE IRRIGATION NEEDS, AND TRANSMIT DATA TO CENTRAL IRRIGATION CONTROLLER. Measurement and Verification. Where did M and V occur? PACIFIC NORTHWEST NATIONAL LABORATORY assessed a precommercial implementation of wireless soil-moisture sensors for irrigation control at the Young Federal Building in Orlando, Florida.. Results: How did Wireless Moisture Sensors perform in M&V? INCONCLUSIVE RESULTS.COMMUNICATION AND SENSOR PROBLEMS OF PRE-COMMERICAL TECHNOLOGY COMPROMISED ANALYSIS. Product development continued after M&V.GREATER GRANULARITY THAN WEATHER-BASED IRRIGATION CONTROL OFFERS POTENTIAL FOR GREATER SAVINGS.Economic Assessment for Soil-Moisture Sensor Installation in Orlando. Assuming a 40% water savings, however, the technology becomes cost-effective at a water rate of $3.11/kgal, which is just below the U.S. national average of $3.30/kgal.Assuming installed system cost of $4,500, annual costs of $680 and 773,700 gal/yr water use.Deployment: Where does M&Vrecommend deploying deploying Wireless Moisture Sensors? FURTHER RESEARCH DOCUMENTING SENSOR EFFECTIVENESS. Meanwhile, turnkey weather-based controllers are recommended. [PDF - 234 KB]

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Last Reviewed: 2022-06-14