CS655 Soil Water Content Reflectometer 12 cm

Overview

The CS655 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. It has shorter rods than the CS650, for use in problem soils.

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

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Benefits and Features

  • 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 CS655 consists of two 12-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 data logger connection.

The CS655 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 ≤8 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 Short rods are easy to install in hard soil. Suitable for soils with higher electrical conductivity.
Rods Not replaceable
Sensors Not interchangeable
Sensing Volume 3600 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 120 mm (4.7 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 240 g (8.5 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 8 dS/m
Range for Bulk EC 0 to 8 dS/m
Accuracy ±(5% of reading + 0.05 dS/m)
Precision 0.5% of BEC

Relative Dielectric Permittivity

Range 1 to 81
Accuracy
  • ±(3% of reading + 0.8) from 1 to 40 for solution EC ≤ 8 dS/m
  • ±2 (from 40 to 81 for solution EC ≤ 2.8 dS/m)
Precision < 0.02

Volumetric Water Content

Range 0 to 100% (with M4 command)
Water Content Accuracy
  • ±1% (with soil-specific calibration) where solution EC < 3 dS/m
  • ±3% (typical with factory VWC model) where solution EC < 10 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 (retired)
CR3000
CR310 (retired)
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 CS655 probes can be installed within 4 inches of each other when using the standard data logger SDI-12 “M” command. The SDI-12 “M” command allows only one probe to be enabled at a time.

Optional Installation Tool

CS650G Rod Insertion Guide 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 was not used. It makes pilot holes into which the rods of the sensors can then be inserted.

FAQs for

Number of FAQs related to CS655: 55

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  1. The CS650-series sensors have the same rugged epoxy and stainless-steel rods that have been used for water content reflectometers since the CS615-L model was introduced in 1995. There are CS615-L and CS616 sensors in many locations that have been in continuous use for more than ten years with no reported problems. If a CS650 or CS655 remains undamaged by external forces such as lightning, harsh chemicals, or animal actions, the sensor is expected to continue working for decades. 

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.  

  5. Because the reported volumetric water content reading is an average taken along the entire length of the rods, the sensor should be fully inserted into the soil. Otherwise, the reading will be the average of both the air and the soil, which will lead to an underestimation of water content. If the sensor rods are too long to go all the way into the soil, Campbell Scientific recommends inserting the rods at an angle until they are fully covered by soil.

  6. No. 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. When liquid water freezes, its dielectric permittivity drops to 3.8, essentially making it look like soil particles to the sensor. A CS650 or CS655 installed in soil that freezes would show a rapid decline in its volumetric water content reading with corresponding temperature readings that are below 0°C. As the soil freezes down below the measurement range of the sensor, the water content values would stop changing and remain steady for as long as the soil remains frozen.  

  7. If information is available on soil texture, organic matter content, and electrical conductivity (EC) from soil surveys or lab testing of the soil, it should be possible to tell if the soil conditions fall outside the range of operation of the sensor. Without this information, an educated guess can be made based on soil texture, climate, and management:

    • Soil that is coarse textured (such as sand, loamy sand, or sandy loam) works well with a CS650 if the EC is low.
    • If the soil is located in an arid or semiarid region, it may have high EC.
    • If the soil is frequently fertilized or irrigated with water that has higher EC, it may have high EC.
    • If the climate provides enough rain to flush accumulated salts below the root zone, the EC is expected to be low and suitable for a CS650.

    When in doubt about soil texture and electrical conductivity, Campbell Scientific recommends using a CS655 because of the sensor’s wider range of operation in electrically conductive soils, as compared with the CS650.

  8. 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 necessarily for artificial soils that typically have high organic matter content and high clay content. In this type of soil, the standard equations in the firmware will overestimate water content.

    When using a CS650 or a CS655 in artificial 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.

  9. No. The temperature sensor is located inside the sensor’s epoxy head next to one of the sensor rods. The stainless-steel rods are not thermally conductive, so the reported soil temperature reading is actually the temperature of the sensor head. If the CS650 or the CS655 is installed horizontally, which is the preferred method, then the sensor head will be at the same temperature as the soil, and the soil temperature value will be accurate. However, if the sensor is installed vertically, and/or with the sensor head above ground, the soil temperature reading will be less accurate. Because the sensor orientation is not known, no temperature correction was written into the firmware.  

  10. 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.

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