Paper version: In stock and available from the USGS Store
For centuries, the amount of moisture in the soil has been of interest in agriculture. The subject of soil moisture is also of great importance to the hydrologist, forester, and soils engineer.
Much equipment and many methods have been developed to measure soil moisture under field conditions. This report discusses and evaluates the various methods for measurement of soil moisture and describes the equipment needed for each method. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are discussed and an extensive list of references is provided for those desiring to study the subject in more detail.
The gravimetric method is concluded to be the most satisfactory method for most problems requiring onetime moisture-content data. The radioactive method is normally best for obtaining repeated measurements of soil moisture in place. It is concluded that all methods have some limitations and that the ideal method for measurement of soil moisture under field conditions has yet to be perfected.