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There is no right or wrong answer, but we will work it out with you.
The optimal sensor density and placement depends on:
1. Actual in-field variability (satellite images, yield maps, your view)
2. Which features you want to compare (north & south, top & deep)
3. Number of different zones you want to control (irrigation lines, furrows, paddocks)
4. Where your problem areas are, and where's a good reference point
A usual starting point is measuring at least three locations at two depths (six sensors) and expanding the system later on. We can give you a site plan proposal and then work out the finer details together.
The moisture measurement has ±2 % mean error and a sensing radius of 5 cm.
Soil is a complex medium and oven drying a fixed-volume soil sample is still the only definite method to determine moisture with scientific accuracy. However, learning water holding levels and saturation points from our curves turns focus to what is optimal, making the absolute value less interesting.
The installation repeatibility can be as good as 1% point (picking sensor out and putting back). Soil type variation will typically cause another 1% point of variation, when correct soil type is selected in our Hub.
There's more detailed information on the Technical specifications on our User Guides page.
You may also download our in-depth technical white paper describing the moisture measurement principles we use.
One sensor gives just one number, but different depths reveal gradients and delays.
Sensors at different depths will show you, that moisture is not evenly distributed in different depth layers, and the gradient is constantly changing. For example rain or irrigation can cause fully wetted topsoil, but not reach the root zone. In a more permeable spot the same amount of water may flow through the topsoil, producing an optimal root zone moisture while still appearing very dry on the surface.
The water infiltration speed is another important factor, which can be observed as a delay in the wettening of shallow sensors to the wettening of the deeper ones. In some parts of a field water penetrates soil quickly, while others take time. These observations reveal soil structure: water infiltration speed, compaction, plow pan, etc.
Choice of depths depend on practical things like crop rooting depth, tillage methods and irrigation, etc. Many of our customers have sensors in the tillage zone, pick them out for field work and put back right after.
1. First shallow sensor (5-15 cm) gives fast indication of where conditions are heading
2. Second sensor at essential root depth indicate plant available water
3. Typical root zone depth for cereals is 30 cm, root vegetables go deeper, strawberries stay shallow
At what depth would you like to have the sensors? What depths are you interested in? Get in contact with us, and we'll work it out together.
Soil Scout provides the online Hub, support and data transfer, but there's more to it.
1. You get Soil Scout support on technical topics and on using the data agronomically
2. The online Hub with alarms and analytics - and the future development of it
3. Cellular data plan for Base Station - no need to compare operators or mind SIM card payments
4. Soil data storage - we make it simple, but you can download local copies if you want
5. A powerful database - 24/7 reliability despite enormous amounts of data
6. A modern API - they’re getting increasingly common and we put you in the frontline
7. Service fees enable us to maintain the support and service for all the years to come
You own data for internal use, but sharing with others than your subcontractors needs our approval.
We trust in open achitecture systems and everyone should have the right to build their own combination of hard and software for their own needs. This is why our open API is an essential part of our solution - when you have data, you also have access to it.
However, there's a few additional points regarding Soil Scout data usage:
1. We want to allow customers to utilise the data in any way they want at the site, horizontally with other systems and downstream
2. However, we want to keep control of the data upstream from the site to entities who may aggregate data from different sites and make business on such data
3. We wouldn’t necessarily forbid such use of the data, but must evaluate each case, because our data might get sold to our competitors or their close partners
These thoughts are reflected in our General Terms and Conditions:
10.1 Subject to the payment of subscription fees [...] the Customer may freely use the Soil Data generated by the Services during the term of this agreement for Customers’ internal agronomist and/or other soil related business purposes.
10.2 Customer shall not,without Soil Scout’s prior written approval, transfer, sell, license, borrow or make available Soil Data to third parties. Notwithstanding the aforesaid, Customer may make Soil Data available to its authorised subcontractors during the validity of the Agreement solely for the Customer’s internal business purposes. [...]
You can read the full T&C on our legal page.