CS650 Soil Water Content Reflectometer 30 cm
Innovative
More accurate in soils with high bulk electrical conductivity
weather applications supported water applications supported energy applications supported gas flux and turbulence applications supported infrastructure applications supported soil applications supported

Overview

The CS650 is a multiparameter smart sensor that uses innovative techniques to monitor soil volumetric water content, bulk electrical conductivity, and temperature. It outputs an SDI-12 signal that many of our dataloggers can measure.

This product is supplied with a 3 m cable as standard, other lengths available to order.

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Benefits and Features

  • More accurate water content measurements in soils with bulk EC up to 3 dS m-1 without performing a soil-specific calibration
  • Larger sample volume reduces error
  • Measurement corrected for effects of soil texture and electrical conductivity
  • Estimates soil-water content for a wide range of mineral soils
  • Versatile sensor—measures dielectric permittivity, bulk electrical conductivity (EC), and soil temperature

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Technical Description

The CS650 consists of two 30-cm-long stainless steel rods connected to a printed circuit board. The circuit board is encapsulated in epoxy and a shielded cable is attached to the circuit board for datalogger connection.

The CS650 measures propagation time, signal attenuation, and temperature. Dielectric permittivity, volumetric water content, and bulk electrical conductivity are then derived from these raw values.

Measured signal attenuation is used to correct for the loss effect on reflection detection and thus propagation time measurement. This loss-effect correction allows accurate water content measurements in soils with bulk EC ≤3 dS m-1 without performing a soil specific calibration.

Soil bulk electrical conductivity is also calculated from the attenuation measurement. A thermistor in thermal contact with a probe rod near the epoxy surface measures temperature. Horizontal installation of the sensor provides accurate soil temperature measurement at the same depth as the water content. Temperature measurement in other orientations will be that of the region near the rod entrance into the epoxy body.

 

Specifications

Measurements Made Soil electrical conductivity (EC), relative dielectric permittivity, volumetric water content (VWC), soil temperature
Required Equipment Measurement system
Soil Suitability Long rods with large sensing volume (> 6 L) are suitable for soils with low to moderate electrical conductivity.
Rods Not replaceable
Sensors Not interchangeable
Sensing Volume 7800 cm3 (~7.5 cm radius around each probe rod and 4.5 cm beyond the end of the rods)
Electromagnetic CE compliant
Meets EN61326 requirements for protection against electrostatic discharge and surge.
Operating Temperature Range -50° to +70°C
Sensor Output SDI-12; serial RS-232
Warm-up Time 3 s
Measurement Time 3 ms to measure; 600 ms to complete SDI-12 command
Power Supply Requirements 6 to 18 Vdc (Must be able to supply 45 mA @ 12 Vdc.)
Maximum Cable Length 610 m (2000 ft) combined length for up to 25 sensors connected to the same data logger control port
Rod Spacing 32 mm (1.3 in.)
Ingress Protection Rating IP68
Rod Diameter 3.2 mm (0.13 in.)
Rod Length 300 mm (11.8 in.)
Probe Head Dimensions 85 x 63 x 18 mm (3.3 x 2.5 x 0.7 in.)
Cable Weight 35 g per m (0.38 oz per ft)
Probe Weight 280 g (9.9 oz) without cable

Current Drain

Active (3 ms)
  • 45 mA typical (@ 12 Vdc)
  • 80 mA (@ 6 Vdc)
  • 35 mA (@ 18 Vdc)
Quiescent 135 µA typical (@ 12 Vdc)

Electrical Conductivity

Range for Solution EC 0 to 3 dS/m
Range for Bulk EC 0 to 3 dS/m
Accuracy ±(5% of reading + 0.05 dS/m)
Precision 0.5% of BEC

Relative Dielectric Permittivity

Range 1 to 81
Accuracy
  • ±(2% of reading + 0.6) from 1 to 40 for solution EC ≤ 3 dS/m
  • ±1.4 (from 40 to 81 for solution EC ≤1 dS/m)
Precision < 0.02

Volumetric Water Content

Range 0 to 100% (with M4 command)
Water Content Accuracy
  • ±1% (with soil-specific calibration)
  • ±3% (typical with factory VWC model) where solution EC < 3 dS/m
Precision < 0.05%

Soil Temperature

Range -50° to +70°C
Resolution 0.001°C
Accuracy
  • ±0.1°C (for typical soil temperatures [0 to 40°C] when probe body is buried in soil)
  • ±0.5°C (for full temperature range)
Precision ±0.02°C

Compatibility

Please note: The following shows notable compatibility information. It is not a comprehensive list of all compatible products.

Dataloggers

Product Compatible Note
CR1000 (retired)
CR1000X
CR200X (retired)
CR216X (retired)
CR300
CR3000
CR310
CR350
CR5000 (retired)
CR6
CR800
CR850
CR9000X (retired)

Additional Compatibility Information

RF Considerations

External RF Sources

External RF sources can affect the probe’s operation. Therefore, the probe should be located away from significant sources of RF such as ac power lines and motors.

Interprobe Interference

Multiple CS650 sensors can be installed within 4 inches of each other when using the standard datalogger SDI-12 “M” command. The SDI-12 “M” command allows only one probe to be enabled at a time.

Installation Tool

The CS650G makes inserting soil-water sensors easier in dense or rocky soils. This tool can be hammered into the soil with force that might damage the sensor if the CS650G were not used. It makes pilot holes into which the rods of the sensors can then be inserted.

Datalogger Considerations

Compatible Contemporary Dataloggers

CR200(X) Series CR800/CR850 CR1000 CR3000 CR9000X

Compatible Retired Dataloggers

CR500 CR510 CR10 CR10X 21X CR23X CR9000 CR5000 CR7X

FAQs for

Number of FAQs related to CS650: 54

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  1. Campbell Scientific strongly discourages shortening the sensor’s rods. The electronics in the sensor head have been optimized to work with the 30 cm long rods. Shortening these rods will change the period average. Consequently, the equations in the firmware will become invalid and give inaccurate readings.

  2. Probably not. The principle that makes these sensors work is that liquid water has a dielectric permittivity of close to 80, while soil solid particles have a dielectric permittivity of approximately 3 to 6. Because the permittivity of water is over an order of magnitude higher than that of soil solids, water content has a significant impact on the overall bulk dielectric permittivity of the soil. When the soil becomes very dry, that impact is minimized, and it becomes difficult for the sensor to detect small amounts of water. In air dry soil, there is residual water that does not respond to an electric field in the same way as it does when there is enough water to flow among soil pores. Residual water content can range from approximately 0.03 in coarse soils to approximately 0.25 in clay. In the natural environment, water contents below 0.05 indicate that the soil is as dry as it is likely to get. Very small changes in water content will likely cause a change in the sensor period average and permittivity readings, but, to interpret those changes, a very careful calibration using temperature compensation would need to be performed.  

  3. Mine tailings are highly corrosive and have high electrical conductivity. Some customers have successfully used water content reflectometers, such as the CS650 or the CS655, to measure water content in mine tailings by coating the sensor rods with heat-shrink tubing. This affects the sensor output, and a soil-specific calibration must be performed. Care must be taken during installation to avoid damaging the heat-shrink tubing and exposing the sensor’s rods.  In addition, covering the sensor’s rods invalidates the bulk electrical conductivity reading. Unless the temperature reading provided by the CS650 or the CS655 is necessary, a better option may be to use a CS616 with coated rods.

  4. The electrical conductivity (EC) of sea water is approximately 48 dS/m. The CS650 can measure permittivity in water with EC between 0 and 3 dS/m. EC readings become extremely unstable at conductivities higher than 3 dS/m and are reported as NAN or 9999999. Because EC is part of the permittivity equation, an EC reading of NAN leads to a permittivity reading of NAN as well. Thus, the CS650 cannot provide good readings in sea water.

    With regard to sea ice, the electrical conductivity drops significantly when sea water freezes and the permittivity changes from approximately 88 down to approximately 4, as the water changes from a liquid to a solid state. With both EC and permittivity falling to levels that are within the CS650 measurement range, the sensor is expected to give valid readings in sea ice. The sensor is rugged and can withstand the cold temperatures. However, as the ice melts, there will be a point at which the electrical conductivity becomes too high to acquire a valid reading for either permittivity or electrical conductivity.

  5. No. The equation used to determine volumetric water content in the firmware for the CS650 and the CS655 is the Topp et al. (1980) equation, which works for a wide range of mineral soils but not for organic soils. In organic soils, the standard equations in the firmware will overestimate water content.

    When using a CS650 or a CS655 in organic soil, it is best to perform a soil-specific calibration. For details on performing a soil-specific calibration, refer to “The Water Content Reflectometer Method for Measuring Volumetric Water Content” section in the CS650/CS655 manual. A linear or quadratic equation that relates period average to volumetric water content will work well.

  6. The CS650/CS655 manual gives a temperature correction that works in coarse sand, but it should be used cautiously with other soil types. If a temperature correction is required, it is best to determine a soil-specific temperature correction. 

    When correcting for temperature, the following effects contribute to the sensor output:

    • The effect of temperature on the measurement electronics inside the sensor head. This is a relatively small effect compared to other temperature effects.
    • The change in the dielectric permittivity of water with temperature. At 0°C, the permittivity of water is approximately 88, at 20°C it is approximately 80, and at 70°C it is approximately 64. If the sensor is in a soil at any given water content, the changing permittivity of water will cause the period average at 0°C to be higher than it is at 20°C. The same soil will have a lower period average at 70°C than at 20°C. In other words, the sensor will overestimate water content at colder temperatures and underestimate it at warmer temperatures. However, that is only true if electrical conductivity is negligible.
    • The change in water content as bound water is captured and released. In soils with high clay content, some of the water is partially or fully immobilized by electrical charges on the surface of the clay minerals. The amount of bound water is temperature dependent and may have a small effect on the sensor readings.
    • The temperature effect of bulk electrical conductivity (EC) on period average. Bulk electrical conductivity increases with temperature; as it increases, it slows down the period average.

    The interaction of these effects may be complicated. For example, with increasing temperature, two things happen at the same time:  the falling permittivity of water is decreasing the period average, and the increasing EC is increasing the period average. The net result as to whether the period average goes up or down depends on how conductive the soil is and the contributions of the other temperature effects.

  7. The CS650 has rods that are 30 cm long, and the CS655 has rods that are 12 cm long. The difference in rod length causes some changes in specifications. For example, the CS650 is slightly more accurate in its permittivity and water content readings, but the CS655 works over a larger range of electrical conductivity. In addition, the CS650 handles a larger measurement volume and provides good accuracy in low EC (electrical conductivity) sand and sandy loam. The CS655 is typically more accurate in soil, works well over a wide range of soil textures and EC, and is easier to install because of its shorter rods.

  8. The volumetric water content reading is the average water content over the length of the sensor’s rods.

  9. The bulk electrical conductivity (EC) measurement is made along the sensor rods, and it is an average reading of EC over that distance at whatever depth the rods are placed.

  10. The cable properties and power requirements of the CS650 and the CS655 are such that communication with a data logger may work for cable lengths greater than 2,000 ft. If multiple sensors are communicating through the same universal or control terminal, the total length of all of those sensors must not exceed 2,000 ft. 

    In practice, it is less expensive to purchase a new data logger than to buy a CS650 or CS655 with 2,000 ft of cable. If the cable is run through conduit, or if a 2,000 ft long trench needs to be excavated, then the installation cost becomes more expensive than buying another data acquisition system and sensors with shorter cables.

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