Soil moisture monitoring systems for urban soils

FUNDING SOURCE: City of Melbourne, Melbourne Water (2013-2014)

RESEARCHERS: Stephen Livesley, Tim Fletcher and Chris Szota

OVERVIEW: Determining the accuracy and calibration of soil moisture monitoring systems for use in WSUD substrates and green spaces to quantify and improve urban stormwater interventions

This project assesses different soil monitoring systems (AquaCheck, Sentek, Campbell Scientific and Odyssey) installed in different soil or substrate types currently used in water sensitive urban design systems throughout our cities: structural soil (for tree pits and under pavement), standard filter media (for biofilters) and a ‘loamy sand’ (in open green space).

This is a controlled experiment whereby replicate large drums are filled with soil/substrate and installed with each soil moisture monitoring system.  Soil moisture will be manipulated through consecutive wetting and drying cycles and soil volumetric water content determined by mass balance (1 ton flat bed balance) at regular intervals whilst the suite of sensors record volumetric soil water content on an hourly basis.  From this we can both assess their comparative performance and accuracy, as well as calibrate each monitoring system to three common soil/substrate conditions.