$10 Moisture meter is providing useful info


#1

Bought one of the $10 stick in the ground moisture meters from Amazon. It’s the style that has two probes and a little switch for moisture light pH. I wasn’t hoping for too much but it has given me some objective info as I’ve been tweaking my Flex daily schedule.

I’ve been checking all my zones everyday with the moisture meter, through hot and sunny and also some rain. I get confidence in my Flex daily setup for a Zone when the moisture meter says moisture is at the low end of the green ok range and flex daily is planning on watering that night.

And the moisture meter has helped me learn that when I have several rainy days in a row I may need to fill the zones for a day or two to allow all the extra moisture to evaporate or get absorbed and then let Flex daily start get back to using it’s algorithms in a accurate manner.

Fwiw …


#2

@slharder Just wondering if it is this one? I thought it was interesting data until I measured moisture about a foot radius from my initial readings and got very different data. Curious if you’ve been measuring in one location and have you tried multiple locations within a short distance from one another.

:cheers:


#3

I understand what you mean about variability between locations. First couple of days I poked everywhere, I didn’t see huge variance but wondered if I was picking up on where a couple of large evergreens with roots close to surface were sucking up extra moisture. I’m in Littleton, Co.

But I settled on some locations that seemed representative of each zone and now just poke those spots. It’s not pure science, but I feel I do see coorelation between what the meter is saying and what flex daily is doing.

And it helped me see that a .3 inch rain a couple of days in a row will leave me with wetter turf than flex daily would predict. So I fill my turf zones for a day or two and then let flex daily get back into the game.

Rachio let us take a 14 day trip to England in May. Came home to green lawn, perennials with 300 drip heads all ok. No hassle, no worries.

So I’m tweaking, but I’m retired and neighbors don’t think it’s weird that I’m out poking my lawn at dusk.


#4

My Amazon moistue meter has 2 probes, so it must be twice as accurate as yours …


#5

And I thought I was the only crazy person with that many drip emitters!!! Don’t you just love Rachio!!!


#6

My wife plants them and I drip them. I was gone for 3 days and came home to 25+ little orange flags scattered in her beds. I should have 2 wives and be twice as happy …


#7

I love this post. Can you provide a link to the probe on Amazon? I never thought about the tree and moisture, we have a massive one in our front yard with roots that cost me $200 every 6 months. I’ll try to pick some spots that might be “root free”. If you are finding somewhat uniformity this gives me hope.

:cheers:


#8


#9

Franz

To sort of test consistency on my meter, I poked about 20 spots in a 30x30 ft turf.

All my readings were between 3 and 5 on a scale of 10. This meter would say moist is 4 thru 7. Majority of readings were 3 and flex daily has this zone scheduled for water tonight. Unless we get lucky and shower makes it down off the mountains.

I think this meter is consistent enough that I can track moisture after large rain event. My current thought is needing to manually fill turf zones for 1 or 2 days after .5 inch or larger precip. Then let flex go back to work. My thought is, in my yard with my soil (disclaimer ), more moisture hangs around and is available to turf than flex daily gives credit for.

Fwiw …


#10

Thanks for more information. I ordered one and will let you know how my yard behaves :wink:

:cheers:


#11

I’m just starting to do the same type of analysis… my end goal is a bit different, I’m currently looking at >$200 water bills every month for my 1/3 acre in Dallas area and trying to keep it “alive but not thriving”.

I recently realized that there is a huge difference in watering (frequency and volume) between clay loam vs. loam soil types. If you go to the advanced page that changes the default “available water” in the soil. Based on what you are saying about watering too soon after a rain, I think that is what you want to change as well.

Next I’m planning to tweak the crop coefficient until the grass is stressed… I will come follow up to this thread in a few months to share what I learned if anything :slight_smile:


#12

I’d very much like that we can put soil readings into the app and it adjusts the estimated drainage curves to match measured data.


#13

More followup,

I’ve been gaining confidence in my $10 meter, I’ve been faithfully poking all my zones morning and night.

I’m seeing consistency between flex daily moisture graphs and the meter needle as a zone gets depleted.

We got a 1 inch rain yesterday, after poking this afternoon I’m going to fill all my zones, possibly fill zones again tomorrow. In my soils, after heavy rain, moisture hangs around and is available, so the meter is showing less depletion than flex daily is calculating.

Every tweak helps the water bill.


#14

We top out at 110% for soil saturation. At one point we were going to make that variable per soil type but it got shelved. I feel soil saturation is a tough problem to tackle since everyone’s yards are unique. The easiest route is to probably allow customers to determine their individual soil saturation levels with a default of 110%.

:cheers:


#15

+1 for the device not to assume Anything. Based on this thread, I could easily see a scenario where we get moisture samples from several consistent spots, enter an average, then let scheduling adjust for the latest status.

That might be a good exercise for the API. At worst, the simplest way of doing this would be to decrease timing as an increas inverse of saturation: 70% moisture means the next scheduled watering runs for %30 of its normal time.

And now that I think about it, here is a suggestion based on what we’ve seen in this thread: Add a 0-100 selector on schedules, where it defaults to 100% of normal watering. Allow tuning that down for the next event. Auto reset back to 100 on the next event. Now add another selector for number of events. So, water at 30% of normal for 2 events, then reset to 100% for every day. For cases where watering occurs too soon after a rain that might lead to 0% for 1 day. Compare this to simple Skip Event options.

If we can do that with the API then one of us can code it up. If not, then don’t worry about a UI change yet, just get the API to facilitate this, we’ll see how it works with that, and if it makes sense, then a UI change might be a good next step.

And of course the next nerdy step would be to get a bunch of moisture sensors to auto report, maybe through a Raspberry Pi, making this a completely automated solution.

All of this is possible for anyone who is skilled and motivated. Personally I lack motivation for this, not skill.