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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Development of a Resistance-Based Sensor for Detection of Wetness at the Soil-Air Interface

Authors
item Osborne, Lawrence - SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIV
item Jin, Yue

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2003
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Osborne, L.E., Jin, Y. 2004. Development of a resistance-based sensor for detection of wetness at the soil-air interface. Agronomy Journal. 96:845-852.

Interpretive Summary: Many microbes, including a number of fungal plant pathogens, often reside at or very near the soil surface. Survival, reproduction, and development of these pathogens are influenced by moisture in the environment. There are currently no efficient means to continuously monitor wetness conditions at the soil-air interface. This study was to develop a sensor to continuously monitor soil-surface wetness. Sensors were developed and tested for consistency and durability through replicate trials. Field trials were then conducted to test sensor response to field environments. The sensor will enable plant pathologists to relate soil environments to the survival and development of plant pathogens, thus facilitating epidemiological studies and disease forecasting. It may also be useful for soil scientists, crop management specialists, and ecologists to monitor the wetness duration on soil surfaces in ecological and crop production studies.

Technical Abstract: Many microbes, including several fungal plant pathogens, often reside at or very near the soil surface. Survival, reproduction, and development of these pathogens are influenced by moisture in the environment. There are currently no efficient means to continuously monitor wetness conditions at the soil-air interface. A project was initiated to develop a sensor to continuously monitor soil-surface wetness to be used in conjunction with data logging equipment. Sensors were developed and tested for consistency and durability through replicate trials conducted on synthetic sponges and on thin soil layers. Field trials were then conducted to test sensor durability and response to field environments. Under greenhouse conditions, sensors were calibrated against tactile estimates of wetness on thin layers of three soil textures (sandy loam, clay loam, and silt loam), over a range of known moisture levels. In laboratory tests sensor response curves were not significantly variable. The calibration of individual sensors on specific substrates would allow for more accurate delineation of wet vs. dry conditions. A parameter of great interest to plant pathologists is wetness duration. The sensors, in conjunction with automatic data logging devices, may be able to provide estimates of this parameter for incorporation into disease predictive models.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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