February 25, 2007 Sensors might never cost-efficiently replace the keen eye of a farmer for spotting fungus, signs of vermin or bird attack, growth rate, weed levels and a host of other almost intuitive inspections, but they are already offering a viable method of ensuring that precious crops are perfectly watered. Data Logging specialist Onset has just added two new plug-and-play Soil Moisture Smart Sensors to its wares, with the new sensors promising precise, long-term soil moisture monitoring. The Decagon ECH2O dielectric probes offer highly accurate measurements of volumetric water content in soil, and have low sensitivity to temperature and saline effects, broadening the range of soil types in which they can be used to include sandy and high-salinity soils and their compact form factor means they can be used in pots and greenhouses. The US$139-a-pop smart sensor design enables the sensors to be plugged into Onset’s 15-channel HOBO Weather Station and 4-channel HOBO Micro Station and automatically recognized without complicated wiring, programming or calibration.

These systems can be configured to measure the user’s choice of a wide range of parameters, and are powered for one year using only four AA batteries. Onset offers a number of data logging software and communications options for HOBO Weather Station products.