Low-Error Soil Moisture Sensor Employing Spatial Frequency Domain TransmissometryView Publication
A new type of soil moisture sensor using spatial frequency domain transmissometry (SFDT) was evaluated. This sensor transmits and receives ultrawideband (1 to 6 GHz) radio waves between two separated antennas and measures the propagation delay time in the soil related to the dielectric constant. This method is expected to be less affected by air gaps between the probes and the soil, as well as being less affected by soil electrical conductivity (EC), than typical commercial sensors. The relationship between output and volumetric water content (𝜃), and the effects of air gaps and EC were evaluated through experiments using sand samples and the prototype SFDT sensor. The output of the SFDT sensor increased linearly with 𝜃 and was not affected by even a high salt concentration for irrigation water, such that the EC of the pore water was 9.2 dS·m−1. The SFDT sensor was almost unaffected by polyethylene tapes wrapped around the sensor to simulate air gaps, whereas a commercially available capacitance sensor significantly underestimated 𝜃. Theoretical models of the SFDT sensor were also developed for the calibration equation and the air gaps. The calculation results agreed well with the experimental results, indicating that analytical approaches are possible for the evaluation of the SFDT sensor.