So, how do moisture sensors work, and why does the soil’s moisture level matter? These days, more and more people are finding themselves growing heavily reliant on technology. Even in British gardening, the invention of moisture sensors has become a helpful tool for farmers and home gardeners in the UK in determining their soil’s level of moisture.
Water plays a vital role in the growth and survival of many plants, and when your plants receive less of it, plant stress can result, and if left unaddressed, this could immediately lead to reduced yield and, eventually, plant death. If you’re gardening in the United Kingdom for profit, this is the worst that can happen to you. To make sure that your plants receive the proper water it needs at the right time, it may be better to consider using a moisture sensor.
What are the 3 Types of Motion Sensors, and How Do They Work?
Moisture content is essential, especially in the agriculture sector, as farmers keep a close eye on managing their irrigation system, ensuring that their crops are getting the right amount of water every day. As the name implies, soil moisture sensors detect the level of moisture or water content of the soil. It uses either the electrical resistance, dielectric constant, or the interaction of neutrons in the soil as the basis of the soil’s moisture content.
The three most common types of moisture sensors are volumetric, tensiometric, and solid-state sensors. Here’s how they work:
Volumetric moisture sensors
Volumetric sensors work by measuring the soil’s water content directly. It’s most commonly used in agricultural research or in farms that cultivate high-value crops where there is a need for an accurate report of soil moisture level. Volumetric sensors have many different moisture sensors, including neutron moisture probes, heat dissipation sensors, and dielectric sensors.
Among those, the most common type of volumetric moisture sensors used in the field is the di-electric sensors. These sensors measure the soil’s water content by using the dielectric constant, or the soil bulk permittivity, of the soil. When the water volume of the soil increases, the dielectric constant would also increase and when the constant decreases, it would translate to lesser water levels in the soil.
Tensiometric moisture sensors
Since soil retains water either through tension or adhesion, tensiometers offer an accurate way for UK gardeners to measure the soil moisture level of their soil as it measures the tension between water and soil particles. With tensiometers, the higher the reading reflected on the gauge, the drier the soil is.
Tensiometric moisture sensors have a tube filled with water. When the probe inserted into the soil near the plant’s roots, the water will leave the tube and into the soil through the probe’s porous ceramic tip. Once the moisture inside and outside the tube soil matches, it will create a reading that will reflect your soil’s moisture level.
When the soil is dry, the plants will have to exert more effort to absorb what little water left in the soil , and this will reflect on your tensiometer’s gauge.
Solid-state sensors primarily work by measuring the soil’s electrical resistance through electrical probes inserted in the soil. Solid-state moisture sensors consist of two probes that create an electrical interaction within the soil. Essentially, when there is more water, there would be less electrical resistance since the current can easily pass through it; when there is less water, the electrical resistance will be higher.
Solid-state sensors are the most inexpensive type of moisture sensors available in the market. However, when used in arid areas of the UK, the solid-state moisture sensors won’t provide an accurate reading. Certain factors such as high salinity levels and elevated salt concentration in the soil could disrupt the workings of the electrical sensors of the probes, which can lead to inaccurate soil moisture readings.
Benefits of Growing Plants Inside a Greenhouse
Greenhouses are one of the best places to grow plants because of the plethora of benefits it offers—most plants grown in a polytunnel in the UK are often more productive than those grown in a British garden.
Here are the other benefits of growing plants inside a greenhouse:
Increased crop yield
With greenhouses, you’ll have complete control of the internal environment. Control means that you will be able to tweak the temperature, humidity, and light according to your plant’s needs. As a result, plants grown in an optimal environment would develop and grow better, leading to more crop yield.
Better protection for your crops
Greenhouses usually have a plastic film or fibreglass, which protects the plants from extreme heat or strong winds. Polytunnel minimises the risk of your plants dying from any climatic factors. Aside from that, the enclosure can also protect your plants from the dangers brought about by pests and disease infestations.
Extended growing season
Since greenhouses offer people complete control of the internal environment, another bonus is that they can extend the growing period of their crops. You can extend the growing season of a warm-season plant throughout winter by putting it in your polytunnel and controlling the environment so it would generate enough warmth for your plant to continue producing flowers or fruits.
Conclusion: How do Moisture Sensors Work?
Moisture sensors come in many varieties and the answer to the question, “how do moisture sensors work?” really depends on the type of sensor. Some in the UK measure the soil tension while others use the soil’s electrical resistance. No matter what type you choose, a moisture sensor can be a great tool you can use to determine your soil’s moisture level to ensure that your plants will receive the right level of hydration they need.