A Dual‐Probe Heat‐Pulse Sensor with Rigid Probes for Improved Soil Water Content Measurement
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2015.01.0025
The dual-probe heat-pulse (DPHP) method is attractive for measuring soil thermal properties and volumetric water content. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a DPHP sensor having rigid probes made from thickwalled stainless steel tubing (2.38-mm outside diameter). The probes of this sensor are much more resistant to deflection than those of conventional DPHP sensors, decreasing measurement error caused by probe deflection during insertion into the soil. Laboratory experiments were conducted across a wide range of saturation levels with glass beads and three soils of different textures. For inferring soil properties from the proposed sensor, we applied the recently developed identical cylindrical perfect conductors (ICPC) model instead of the infinite line source (ILS) model that is typically used. The ICPC model improves solution for heat transport through the probe-soil system by accounting for the heat capacity and radius of the probes. Our results show a root mean square error of 1.4% volumetric water content and elimination of the measurement bias typically encountered with DPHP measurements. We conclude that the improved sensor, in combination with the ICPC model, provides a general, soil-independent water content estimate that is especially suitable for field soil water content monitoring because of its robust design with rigid probes. Because of its simplicity and measurements independent of soil type, we propose the presented DPHP method as an excellent alternative to other available measurement techniques for soil water content.