The way you install your sensors is very important to ensure accurate and consistent readings. If one step is left out, the result could lead to a distorted reflection of what's going on in your field. 

In this post, we will walk through the steps to follow when installing a Trellis sensor station.

Scroll down to see step-by-step instructions or watch our short installation video below!


Getting started

Soak sensors for at least 30 minutes prior to installation. This helps the sensors to be more sensitive during the first few irrigations following installation. We typically use a 5-gallon bucket or trash can to soak the sensors.

Where should they be installed?

Generally speaking, sensor stations should not be placed:

  • At the tops or bottoms of hills
  • Within the first pivot span, or
  • Under the end gun. 

We don't recommend these areas because they can give inaccurate readings or risk being damaged.

If your field is large, it may vary in soil texture. A loam field may contain a gravel strip or an area of hard clay. Check out the NRCS Web Soil Survey if you need a detailed soil map. Being able to measure the moisture in each soil texture is vitally important to understand how each is retaining water throughout the field. We recommend at least one sensor in each soil texture.

So, where should you place your sensor stations? You should install them:

  • Within line-of-sight to base station
  • Near active the root system of the crop
  • In each soil texture (if possible)
  • At least 3 plants in from field road

When should sensors be installed?

Install sensor stations after planting to avoid damage during planting.

In addition to soil moisture, our sensor stations also measure soil temperature at 2” below the surface. Some growers like to install sensors right before planting to monitor soil temperature. These growers pull up the sensor stations prior to planting and reinstall them after they’ve completed planting in their field.

 

Supplies4Install.jpg

What do you need?

 

1. Sensor station

2. Auger drill bit

3. Empty bucket

4. Mounting pole

5. Cordless drill

6. Water

 

How do you install sensors?

STEP 1: Assemble.

Attach mounting pole to the sensor station by using the threaded PVC adapter on the bottom of the box.
 

STEP 2: Test Connection.

Go to installation location & test radio connection to base station. Turn power switch “on” & look for green light (it worked!). 

No green light? Move to place with line-of-sight to base station. {Note: If you're using our system, make sure to install base station first}

TestConnection.png
 

STEP 3: Dig two holes

The holes should be 12” apart in middle of row - one for probe, one for electronics box. Save soil for backfilling. Probe hole should be deep enough so only PVC adapter remains out of ground. Only electronics box should remain out of other hole.

DigHoles.png
 

STEP 4: Create slurry.

Place extracted soil in empty bucket & add a little water.Break down any clumps to create smooth slurry.

CreateSlurry.png
 

STEP 5: Backfill hole.

Pour a few inches of mixture into probe hole. Insert probe, pressing down into slurry at the bottom. Repeat until slurry covers all of the top sensor. Before filling rest of hole, compact soil around probe to remove air pockets. Repeat with second hole.

backFill.png

Make sure all air bubbles are removed during installation. An air bubble around the sensor will produce an inaccurate reading.

airpockets.png
 

STEP 6: Turn on.

With dry hands, open electronics box & verify switch is in "on" position.

TurnOn.png

Now with your new sensor system installed you have the ability to:

  • Produce better yield & quality
  • Optimize production
  • Reduce water waste
  • Manage energy efficiently
  • Maximize nutrient use
  • Eliminate excessive runoff 
  • Help protect water quality

Resources

http://www.irrigation-mart.com/customer/irrmar/pdf/MoistureSensorAgIrrigationDesignManual.pdf

http://www.ftcollinscd.org/programs/cost-share/sms-watermark-guide/#5-0

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