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Wireless lysimeters for real-time online soil water monitoring

Kim, Y., Jabro, J.D., Evans, R.G.
Irrigation science 2011 v.29 no.5 pp. 423
Internet, buckets, cropping systems, drainage, drainage water, field experimentation, growing season, irrigated farming, lysimeters, monitoring, radio, remote sensing, rhizosphere, sensors, soil water, soil water content, weather stations
Identification of drainage water allows assessing the effectiveness of water management. Passive capillary wick-type lysimeters (PCAPs) were used to monitor water flux leached below the root zone under an irrigated cropping system. Wireless lysimeters were developed for web-based real-time online monitoring of drainage water using a distributed wireless sensor network (WSN). Twelve PCAP sensing stations were installed across the field at 90 cm below the soil surface, and each station measured the amount of drainage water using two tipping buckets mounted in the lysimeter and continually monitored soil water contents using two soil moisture sensors installed above the lysimeter. A weather station was included in the WSN to measure micrometeorological field conditions. All in-field sensory data were periodically sampled and wirelessly transmitted to a base station that was bridged to a web server for broadcasting the data on the internet. Communication signals from the in-field sensing stations to the base station were successfully interfaced using low-cost Bluetooth wireless radio communication. Field experiments resulted in high correlation between estimated and actual drainage with r 2 = 0.95 and confirmed a reliable wireless communication throughout the growing season. A web-linked WSN system provided convenient remote online access to monitor drainage water flux and field conditions without the need for costly time-consuming supportive operations.