Soil moisture monitoring systems for urban soils

Researchers: A/Prof Stephen Livesley, Prof Tim Fletcher and Dr Chris Szota

Funding: City of Melbourne, Melbourne Water (2013-2014)


To help quantify and improve urban stormwater interventions, we investigated the accuracy and calibration of soil moisture monitoring systems in water sensitive urban design substrates and green spaces.

In this study, we assessed soil monitoring systems including AquaCheck, Sentek, Campbell Scientific and Odyssey. These systems are installed in different soil or substrate types in water sensitive urban design systems throughout our cities including structural soil for tree pits and under pavement, standard filter media for biofilters and loamy sand in open green space.

In this controlled experiment, we filled replicate large drums with soil/substrate and installed each soil moisture monitoring system. We manipulated soil moisture through consecutive wetting and drying cycles and determined soil volumetric water content by mass balance (1 tonne flatbed balance) at regular intervals, while the sensors recorded volumetric soil water content on an hourly basis. From this we assessed their comparative performance and accuracy and calibrated each monitoring system to three common soil/substrate conditions.


For more information please contact Stephen Livesley from the Green Infrastructure Research Group at

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