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In the realm of agriculture and ecosystem vitality, one key rule reigns supreme: healthy soil thrives on optimal soil moisture levels. These levels strike a fine balance, never plunging below the dreaded wilting point, where root absorption comes to a halt, nor skyrocketing above the field capacity, risking valuable water and nutrient runoff.

Yet, the ideal moisture spectrum can sway based on the soil type in question. In this post, we’re taking a deep dive into the most pressing query posed by our cherished sensor users: “I’ve irrigated, but my sensors show no response. What’s the matter?”

Every inch of soil features an intricate network of pores, varying in size. Within a healthy soil environment, these pores maintain a delicate harmony. Adequate water meets the roots’ hydration needs, yet enough air keeps them breathing freely. However, it’s when soil experiences severe dehydration that these pores become laden with air, with water’s adhesive and cohesive forces vanishing into thin air. It’s akin to a dry sponge floating effortlessly on water until it finally sponges up enough liquid.

Hydrophobic properties of soil

In our extensive data records, we’ve uncovered a fascinating phenomenon. The transition from reaching the wilting point to soil turning hydrophobic can occur startlingly fast, sometimes in a matter of days or even hours, especially under extreme conditions. This stealthy transformation can manifest unexpectedly, even occurring between two successive waterings or through a gradual drying process despite frequent irrigation. Hydrophobic soil presents a unique challenge, masquerading as an impermeable surface. It plays a starring role in triggering flash floods in arid regions, where soil fails to absorb water and instead directs it downhill, creating runoff.

The issue with hydrophobic soil is water doesn’t infiltrate down to the sensor tips at the root depth in hydrophobic soils. Rather, the soil needs time to soak up moisture progressively for the adhesive and cohesive forces to re-establish. In a nutshell, waterings, though administered correctly, often remain “invisible” in the data.

Now, let’s uncover a range of practical solutions to tackle this issue head-on:

  1. Sustain Optimal Moisture Levels: The most straightforward method entails maintaining consistent soil moisture levels, guaranteeing continual water uptake. This approach is especially critical for Green Infrastructures striving to preserve the ability to absorb runoff water effectively.
  2. Boost Soil Quality: Consider enhancing the soil’s structure and composition. The incorporation of more organic matter can significantly bolster moisture retention, as can nurturing a thriving soil ecosystem.
  3. Layer-by-Layer Strategy: When dealing with hydrophobic soil, contemplate “opening up” the topsoil with tools like harrows or plows, creating pathways for water to seep down to the lower levels where the roots reside.
  4. Gradual Watering: In the realm of hydrophobic soil, opt for smaller, evenly distributed water applications over an extended period. This approach affords the soil the time it needs to absorb moisture effectively and replenish its natural moisture balance.

While our sensors stand as invaluable “early warning” systems, it’s equally important to embark on a thorough soil investigation. By exploring the soil itself, you can unveil a deeper understanding of the nuances within soil moisture management. In the world of agriculture and ecosystem sustainability, it all commences with mastering the art of soil moisture optimization.

About Sensoterra

Sensoterra is a pioneering leader in the field of wireless soil moisture sensors, offering cutting-edge IoT soil moisture sensor solutions for smart agriculture. Our state-of-the-art Sensoterra soil moisture sensors are at the forefront of agriculture IoT, providing unparalleled soil moisture monitoring capabilities.

Our commitment to precision agriculture technology allows farmers to make informed decisions, optimize their irrigation systems, and embrace sustainable farming solutions. With Sensoterra, access to real-time soil moisture data is at your fingertips, enabling precise water management and water resource management for your agricultural operations.

Sensoterra, established in 2015, with its headquarters in Houten, The Netherlands, develops water management solutions for agriculture/horticulture, smart city management, and water governance. Sensoterra has over 12,000 sensors in the ground globally, and generates hundreds of thousands of data points for smart water management, daily. Learn more at

Contact for more information, pictures and/or interview requests:
Jessica Nuboer
Marketing & Communications
Email: [email protected]