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

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 data loggers can measure.

Note: The cable termination options for this sensor are not suitable for use with an ET107 station. For this type of station, use the CS650-LC sensor instead, which has a suitable cable connector.

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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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Detailed 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 data logger 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, 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

Note: The following shows notable compatibility information. It is not a comprehensive list of all compatible or incompatible products.

Data Loggers

Product Compatible Note
21X (retired)
CR10 (retired)
CR1000
CR1000X
CR10X (retired)
CR200X (retired)
CR206X (retired)
CR211X (retired)
CR216X (retired)
CR23X (retired)
CR295X (retired)
CR300
CR3000
CR310
CR500 (retired)
CR5000 (retired)
CR510 (retired)
CR6
CR800
CR850
CR9000 (retired)
CR9000X

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 data logger 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.

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 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The CS650 and the CS655 are not ideal sensors for measuring water level. However, these sensors do respond to the abrupt change in permittivity at the air/water interface. A calibration could be performed to relate the period average or permittivity reading to the distance along the sensor rods where the air/water interface is located. From that, the water level can be determined. The permittivity of water is temperature dependent, so a temperature correction would be needed to acquire accurate results.  

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.  

  8. 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. Gasoline and other hydrocarbons have dielectric permittivities in the same range as soil particles, which essentially make them invisible to the CS650 and the CS655. 

  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 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.

  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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