Soil Moisture Sensor Study

Hillsborough County Extension Service is conducting a Soil Moisture Sensor study to determine whether soil moisture sensors will save significantly more water when compared to a rain sensor for the homeowner or business that participates.

What is a Soil Moisture Sensor and what does it do?
A soil moisture sensor is a new way for your automatic irrigation system to sense how much water is available in the soil and prevent your system from irrigating if there is sufficient water available.

How does it work?
The soil moisture sensor (SMS) is connected to the irrigation system controller. A soil moisture sensor probe is buried in the root-zone of an area that has irrigation. The probe measures soil moisture in the root zone before each scheduled irrigation cycle and bypasses the cycle if soil moisture is above a preset point.

What is a Rain Sensor and what does it do?
A rain sensor is a small device wired to the irrigation controller and attached outside to the roofline. It prevents irrigation when sufficient rain has fallen.

Why would a homeowner or business want a soil moisture sensor?
It is expected that a soil moisture sensor will save significantly more water and money, as well as keep turfgrass healthier compared to a rain sensor.

How can I participate?

  • The study is open to Hillsborough County residents and businesses that meet the following criteria:
  • Located south of State Road 60
  • Hillsborough County Public Utilities water customer who uses potable water for turfgrass irrigation
  • Uses more than 15,000 gallons per month at their residence or business
  • Have an in-ground, automated irrigation system

I’m not sure I qualify. How can I find out?
Contact Paula Staples, (813) 744-5519, ext. 54142, or email to learn if you qualify for the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County Soil Moisture Sensor study.

How much will this cost?
The SMS or rain sensor is provided and installed free of charge for those residents and businesses that meet the required criteria.

How many soil moisture sensors and rain sensors are available?
There are 100 soil moisture sensors and 50 rain sensors available.

Would you like more information about how to conserve water?

Complete the Contact Form

The Soil Moisture Sensor study is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Hillsborough County Public Utilities conducted by the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County.