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 Field Reader and Sensor Starter Kit 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 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
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research helps facilitate and fund this agricultural project. CSIRO oversees distribution of the product.
The kit is currently priced at $210; however, this product is still in the prototype phase and prices will be lower once commercialized.Interview with representative
Goal 2: improve food security by reducing crop loss associated with improper irrigation techniques.
Farmers in resource poor settings.
Manufactured individually.Interview with representative
The designer is pursuing limited IP for this product in order to incorporate the sensor in a social enterprise.Interview with representative
This product has not yet reached commercialization and are limited in the quantity of sensors they can provide.Interview with representative After September 30th, 2016, interested parties can purchase the sensor for beta testing 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
Soil moisture, soil pH, biologically active soil organic matter, electrical conductivity, micronutrients such as nitrate, sulphate, phosphate and potassium, etc.
The sensor measures tension in the soil at three different depths and gives an output resembling a traffic light i.e. blue (plenty of water) green (intermediate amount of water) and red (running out of water).
The Chameleon Sensors are still in their testing phase; therefore, support is provided by the project managers.
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
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research R&D programs are responsible for developing, monitoring and evaluating projects. The University of Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo has helped supervised the field trials of the Chameleon sensor in Mozambique.
When facilitating repairs to the sensor, basic electrical precautions should be taken.
Richard Stirzaker, Ikenna Mbakwe & Nuru Ressa Mziray, 2017, A soil water and solute learning system for smallscale irrigators in Africa
Manufacturer specifies accuracy of Chameleon sensor compared to tensiometers as evaluation criteria in their final report.
Article on Installing Chameleon Sensors.
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