Chameleon Soil Moisture Sensor
Dr. Richard Stirzaker
Chameleon Soil Moisture Sensor is an instrument which measures water level and moisture content of soil to help farmers to know when to irrigate.
The Chameleon Soil Moisture Sensor is a prototype sensor designed to increase water management techniques for smallholder irrigators on their farms. Applications of the Chameleon sensor include providing information on when to irrigate to avoid water stress, how to avoid water-logging, determining when the soil profile is susceptible to fertilizer leaching, and improving the usefulness of rainfall. This sensor can also help farmers determine where the roots are actively taking up water giving farmers insight on when to irrigate and how much water to apply. The kit includes a field reader, sensor array, connector, and battery charging cable.
Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe
CSIRO oversees distribution of the product.
210 USDInterview with representative
Goal 2: Zero hunger
Farmers in resource poor settings
The sensor was developed in a project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. It is made of resistivity sensor and colour diodes, connected to a mobile phone app.
The designer is pursuing limited IP for this product in order to incorporate the sensor in a social enterprise Interview with representative
Users can purchase the sensor for through CSIRO’s Virtual Irrigation Academy Shop
As of July 2016, there are approximately 2000 sensors in the ground being used by farmers in Africa Interview with representative
The accuracy range, %
List of the parameters the technology measures
How is the product powered?
What types of sensors are installed?
The resistivity sensor is buried in the soil and a reader which transmits data to colour diodes is connected to the sensor. The sensor measures tension in the soil at three different depths and gives a colour-coded output i.e. blue means the soil is wet (0 to 20 kPa): do not irrigate, green means the soil is moist (20 to 50 kPa): get ready to irrigate and red means the soil is dry (greater than 50kPa): irrigate. The output can also be displayed on a card, which displays a one colour output.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) provides technical support for users.
Replacement sensors and field readers are available through the Virtual Irrigation Academy Shop.
The longevity of gypsum based sensors is listed as a possible concern and further testing will reveal the lifespan of the sensors. Current sensors have been in the ground for over 3 years and are still performing properly Interview with representative
The sensor is designed to help small-scale farmers to properly irrigate their farms
As part of the project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the sensor was tested and found to be effective in helping farmers improve their irrigation practices.
Testing has been performed by CSIRO, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
When facilitating repairs to the sensor, basic electrical precautions should be taken.
A mobile app was designed by CSIRO to relay information from the sensor.
Moyo, M., Van Rooyen, A., Bjornlund, H., Parry, K., Stirzaker, R., Dube, T., and Maya, M., 2020, The dynamics between irrigation frequency and soil nutrient management: transitioning smallholder irrigation towards more profitable and sustainable systems in Zimbabwe. International Journal of Water Resources Development, pp 1-25.
Svedberg, E., 2019, Impact on yield and water productivity of wheat by access to irrigation scheduling technologies in Koga Irrigation Scheme, Ethiopia. Master of science thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.
Stirzaker, R., Mbakwe, I., and Mziray, N. R., 2017, A soil water and solute learning system for small-scale irrigators in Africa. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 33(5), pp 788-803.
The sensor has been evaluated for its efficiency in helping farmers manage irrigation on their farms. The evaluation was done by CSIRO.
Article on Installing Chameleon Sensors
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