Measuring water content of soil substitutes with time-domain reflectometry (TDR)

F. F. Da Silva, R. Wallach*, A. Polak, Y. Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Optimization of irrigation and fertilization regimes in greenhouses and other controlled environments requires accurate and frequent measurements of soil-water content. Recent studies on TDR use in gravely soils and in closed-container studies have indicated a potential use of this method in horticulture. In this study, TDR calibration curves were determined for tuff (granulated volcanic ash), vermiculite, perlite and a mix of two composted agricultural wastes (grape marc, separated cow manure). Widely used as horticultural substrates, mixes of these materials were tested as well. For all soil substitutes tested, measured calibration results are well described by linear equations throughout tested values of water content that cover the working range in horticulture. Ledieu's equation, widely used in soils, describes fairly well the measured results for perlite, but underestimates those obtained for organic media, vermiculite (because of the presence of bound water) and tuff (probably due to water in occluded pores). The differences obtained between the measured calibration equations and Ledieu's equation indicate that in order to avoid an erroneous irrigation management, calibration is necessary whenever a new soil substitute is used.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)734-737
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Horticultural substrates
  • TDR calibration


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