Comparative Assessment of Factory and Field Calibrations for Soil Moisture Sensors in Three Irrigated Colorado Soils

Project Overview

Measurement of soil moisture is an important component of irrigation water management to better inform the timing and depth of irrigation applications, reduce the likelihood of excessively or insufficiently irrigating and optimizing agricultural water use in accordance with conservation goals.  Accurate determination of soil water quantity is among the most important data for implementing deficit or limited irrigation, in which irrigation applications are optimized to maximize crop quality and yields with declining water supplies.

Field Studies

Field studies are conducted in three Colorado locations where agricultural water use faces imminent trends in curtailment and drought.  This field study is designed to generate new peer-reviewed information on soil moisture sensors whose performance, has not been summarized or conveyed in available literature. The research will be performed in the Arkansas, Colorado and South Platte River Basins of Colorado.  These are semi-arid climate zones with low annual precipitation rates.  The research will be performed within irrigated corn fields during the 2021 growing season.   Installation of the following sensors – Sentek® TriSCAN probes (, Acclima® TDR 315 probes, Campbell Scientific SoilVUE® probes, Campbell Scientific CS655 probes, Meter Group TEROS 12 sensors and Irrometer Watermark granular matrix tensiometers – will be installed at three (3) depths (8, 12 and 20 in) at each research locations within close proximity (1-2 m2) of each other.  Neutron probe access tubes will be installed nearby as well.  Textural classification, available water holding capacity, field capacity, wilting point, organic matter content and bulk density will be determined by laboratory methods.


  • Perry E. Cabot, Extension Professor, Colorado Water Center, CSU Extension, CSU AES
  • Joel Schneekloth, Master Instructor, Colorado Water Center, CSU Extension


This project is supported by Colorado Water Center and equipment has been purchased.  In discussion with Colorado Mesa University Prof. Joel Sholtes to support a student project.