CS655 12 cm Soil Water Content Reflectometer

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.

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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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Detailed 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 datalogger 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

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.)
Operational Temperature -10° 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 10 sensors connected to the same datalogger 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 electrical conductivity ≤ 8 dS/m
  • ±2 (from 40 to 81 for solution electrical conductivity ≤ 2.8 dS/m)
Precision < 0.02

Volumetric Water Content

-NOTE- Using Topp Equation (m3/m3)
Range 5% to 50%
Accuracy ±3% VWC (typical in mineral soils that have solution electrical conductivity ≤ 10 dS/m)
Precision < 0.05%

Soil Temperature

Range -10° to +70°C
Accuracy ±0.5°C (for probe body buried in soil)
Precision ±0.02°C

Compatibility

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 datalogger SDI-12 “M” command. The SDI-12 “M” command allows only one probe to be enabled at a time.

Installation Tools

14384 Pilot Tool

The 14384 Pilot Tool has rods with similar diameters and the same spacing as the probe. The tool can be driven into the soil using force levels that might damage the probe. After removing the 14384, the probe is inserted into the established holes.

14383 Installation Tool

The 14383 Installation Tool can be used to help maintain the proper spacing and parallel orientation of rods during insertion. Use of the 14383 may reduce measurement errors by minimizing soil disturbance.

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

Downloads

CS650 / CS655 Firmware v.2 (429 KB) 12-02-2015

Current CS650 and CS655 firmware. 

Note:  The Device Configuration Utility and A200 Sensor-to-PC Interface are required to upload the included firmware to the sensor.

View Update History

Frequently Asked Questions

Number of FAQs related to CS655: 55

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  1. A thermistor is encased in the epoxy head of the sensor next to one of the stainless-steel rods. This provides an accurate point measurement of temperature at the depth where that portion of the sensor head is in contact with the soil. This is why a horizontal placement is the recommended orientation of the CS650 or CS655. The temperature measurement is not averaged over the length of the sensor rods.

  2. 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.

  3. Campbell Scientific strongly discourages shortening the sensor’s rods. The electronics in the sensor head have been optimized to work with the 12 cm long rods. Shortening these rods will change the period average. Consequently, the equations in the firmware will become invalid and give inaccurate readings.

  4. Modifications to the CS650 or CS655, including shortening the cable, will void the warranty. However, shortening the cable will not affect the sensor’s performance. If a decision is made to shorten the cable, care should be taken to avoid damaging the cable jacket and exposing bare wire except at the ends that connect to the datalogger or multiplexer terminals.

  5. Yes. Keeping the sensor rods parallel during installation is especially difficult in gravel, but it can be done. Gravel has large pore spaces that drain quickly, so the water content readings will likely show rapid changes between saturation and very dry. If small changes of water content at the dry end are of interest, a soil-specific calibration may need to be performed to convert period average directly to volumetric water content.

  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. The electrical conductivity (EC) of sea water is approximately 48 dS/m. The CS655 can measure permittivity in water with EC between 0 and 8 dS/m. EC readings become extremely unstable at conductivities higher than 8 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 CS655 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 CS655 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.