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K-State Today

October 15, 2021

K-State leading new research on testbeds for improved soil moisture sensing and technology transfer

Submitted by Andres Patrignani

A new multi-institutional research initiative funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service seeks to deploy soil moisture testbeds across multiple states to evaluate, calibrate and disseminate existing and emerging in-situ sensing technologies. The project is led by Andres Patrignani, assistant professor in soil water processes in the agronomy department at Kansas State University.

With the inception of a new National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network, the new emphasis by the conservation service to measure dynamic soil properties, and the increasing role of sensors in the farming decision-making process, soil moisture sensors are at the heart of a new wave of information in the agricultural sector. 

Soil moisture testbeds are field areas dedicated to testing soil moisture sensing technologies including research-grade and consumer-grade sensors. The goal of the researchers is to deploy a total of four soil moisture testbeds in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Maryland to test soil moisture sensing technologies in different soils and climates. These soil moisture testbeds will serve as a platform for scientific research, outreach activities and public-private collaboration opportunities.

Co-principal investigators for this project also include Gerard Kluitenberg, soil physics, Kansas State University; Briana Wyatt, soil physics, Texas A&M; Tyson Ochsner, applied soil physics, Oklahoma State University; and Michael Cosh, research hydrologist, USDA-ARS-Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.