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Ronny Berndtsson

Professor, Dep Director, MECW Dep Scientific Coordinator

Profile photo of Ronny Berndtsson

Laboratory calibration and field validation of soil water content and salinity measurements using the 5TE sensor


  • Nessrine Zemni
  • Fethi Bouksila
  • Magnus Persson
  • Fairouz Slama
  • Ronny Berndtsson
  • Rachida Bouhlila

Summary, in English

Capacitance sensors are widely used in agriculture for irrigation and soil management purposes. However, their use under saline conditions is a major challenge, especially for sensors operating with low frequency. Their dielectric readings are often biased by high soil electrical conductivity. New calculation approaches for soil water content (θ) and pore water electrical conductivity (ECp), in which apparent soil electrical conductivity (ECa) is included, have been suggested in recent research. However, these methods have neither been tested with low-cost capacitance probes such as the 5TE (70 MHz, Decagon Devices, Pullman, WA, USA) nor for field conditions. Thus, it is important to determine the performance of these approaches and to test the application range using the 5TE sensor for irrigated soils. For this purpose, sandy soil was collected from the Jemna oasis in southern Tunisia and four 5TE sensors were installed in the field at four soil depths. Measurements of apparent dielectric permittivity (Ka), ECa, and soil temperature were taken under different electrical conductivity of soil moisture solutions. Results show that, under field conditions, 5TE accuracy for θ estimation increased when considering the ECa effect. Field calibrated models gave better θ estimation (root mean square error (RMSE) = 0.03 m3 m−3) as compared to laboratory experiments (RMSE = 0.06 m3 m−3). For ECp prediction, two corrections of the Hilhorst model were investigated. The first approach, which considers the ECa effect on K’ reading, failed to improve the Hilhorst model for ECp > 3 dS m−1 for both laboratory and field conditions. However, the second approach, which considers the effect of ECa on the soil parameter K0, increased the performance of the Hilhorst model and gave accurate measurements of ECp using the 5TE sensor for irrigated soil.


  • Division of Water Resources Engineering
  • MECW: The Middle East in the Contemporary World
  • Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)

Publishing year





Sensors (Switzerland)





Document type

Journal article




  • Soil Science
  • Water Engineering


  • FDR sensor
  • Real time monitoring
  • Sensor calibration and validation
  • Soil pore water electrical conductivity
  • Soil salinity
  • Soil water content




  • ISSN: 1424-8220