For the past 2 years we have been using the Davis Ventage Go Pro2 weather station with an EnviroMonitor Gateway and 2 nodes each connected to 60 cm Sentek drill and drop sensors to monitor soil moisture content (% water) and temperature every 10 cm down to 60 cm. The weather station is fully autonomous, with no requirements for power or internet connection.
I subscribe to the WeatherLink 15 minute update so I get data report every 15 minutes through the cellular network. I also set up my system to import all the weather data into a spreadsheet for analysis and historical records.
Because of the high variability of the soil type in our site, it has been very challenging to reliably translate the water content into water potential data. This year we have added METER Teros 21 sensors to the EnviroMonitor nodes to remove the soil type from the equation.
Finally, we have a pressure switch sensor to record when irrigation is turned on and off.
We have experienced a few ups and down but Davis technical support has been very diligent and responsive in helping us solve the problems.
This solution was quite pricey but was essential for our situation. We have two nodes placed at opposite side of our soil type spectrum (loamy clay – sandy loam) so that we can have a better understanding of the soil condition. We are not leaving on the truffière so the weather station and the sensor are our eyes to help us decide when to turn on irrigation remotely.
Also you can’t improve what you can’t measure. We are storing the data with the intention that when we start producing truffles we will be able to to conduct irrigation pattern tests and see the impact on production.
Because of cost we have limited the number of nodes, but once we will start producing we probably add a few more nodes.
We would get a similar setup without any hesitation, but would probably change a couple things. We would probably not use the Sentek sensors again, or if we would really want to monitor the multiple depth, we would take only one of the shorter (30 cm) sensor to save money, and use Teros 21 sensor in the other locations. The other change would be that instead of a pressure switch sensor, we would use a pressure gage sensor (the switch tells you when water is on or off, the gage gives you pressure readings) so that we could better assess the flow at the sprinkler to have a better measure of the amount of water given to each tree (we have been struggling with reconciling theoretical flows with measured flows).