Optical soil moisture sensor

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Traditionally, resistivity or capacitance are used to measure soil moisture. Open source moisture sensors that everyone uses with Arduinos are based on electrical resistance measurements. First, they are known to rust very fast. Second, conductivity in soils is very sensitive to ionic concentrations, or amount of salts for example. The goal of this project is to explore optical methods to measure moisture in soils.

Open main doc

Parent project: Sensing and sensemaking for glocal food systems
Related projects: iPot, eCG


  • Irrigation:
    • home gardening
    • open field agriculture
    • controlled environment agriculture
    • research operations
  • Soil testing kits for mobile labs
    • private sector paid services
    • public and voluntary sector subsidized services
  • add more...   

Short-term goals

  • Explore different types of optical sensors
  • Build one working prototype
  • Make the prototype Arduino compatible

Long-term goals

Make an Arduino-compatible product


  1. Functionality prototype
  2. Field prototype
  3. Manufacturing prototype
  4. Total Life Cycle prototype


Role map


See SENSORICA Business Model and Contribution Accounting System.  Innovation Portfolio-East Africa, a publicly viewable Trello board, lists this project along with other contacts, innovation projects, business ideas, and organizations that may relate to this effort.  

Tools, activities, and processes

Open Diigo tag optical_soil-moisture

Five-step development process for a Statement / Scope of Work (SOW) or grant proposal
  1. Ideation
  2. Curation
  3. Narration
  4. Team Formation
  5. Negotiation

Skills and resources needed

Plant people (agronomists, horticulturalists, floriculturists)
DIY practitioners / makerspace denizens / innovators

Contact us if you want to contribute!


Recent Announcements

  • New development project for the soil moisture sensor Scott has initiated a new IoT development project for the soil moisture sensor, in collaboration with Connected Fields, a Montreal-based startup dedicated to providing sensing solutions for agriculture. Their ...
    Posted Sep 20, 2016, 8:36 PM by Tiberius Brastaviceanu
  • 2-weeks testing Completed a full 2-weeks watering-drying cycle in a small pot. See update in the "FD-proto-moisture-sensor" document.
    Posted Nov 10, 2015, 11:24 AM by Tiberius Brastaviceanu
  • Initial testing Performed initial testing of FD-Prototype. Over the course of almost 2 days, signal slightly increases. The sensor is very sensitive to ambient daylight as shown by the "bumps" on ...
    Posted Aug 16, 2019, 1:04 PM by Sensorica Group
  • New prototype built 15-Oct-15 See document here.
    Posted Oct 18, 2015, 7:37 AM by Tiberius Brastaviceanu
Showing posts 1 - 4 of 4. View more »

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