Sentek Drill & Drop: A robust soil probe that takes true soil profiles

By on December 11, 2014

Sentek’s Drill & Drop soil measurement probe is fully encapsulated, easy to install and capable of measuring a true soil profile. Those and other features make it one of the most robust soil monitoring probes available today.

Commonly used in irrigated agriculture applications, the Drill & Drop can be used to look at long-term or short-term trends of soil moisture, temperature and salinity. With its fully sealed design, it’s ready for whatever conditions arise.

“The Drill & Drop is designed to be installed and left in the ground for the period of the crop or environmental application being measured,” said Colin Packer, communications manager at Sentek. “This could be years or weeks depending on the application.”

Installation relies on the Drill & Drop Probe Installation Kit, which helps users drill the perfect hole for the probe. It keeps the auger on track with a supporting base plate kit that attaches securely to the ground during installation.

“Probes installed with slurry into oversized holes remove natural soil horizons and potentially create an impenetrable wall or preferential path for soil water movement and roots,” said Packer. In addition, the probe’s tapered design helps ensure a direct, slurry-free install.

Typical deployments use Sentek’s default calibration, says Packer, with about 90 percent of the company’s customers using that default programming. If specific soil types need to be measured, such as sand or clay, Drill & Drops can otherwise be switched to different calibrations.

Since most users just need the factory calibration settings, Packer says the maintenance concerns for Drill & Drops are small following setup.

“The key maintenance is protecting the cable between probe and logger or telemetry,” said Packer. Beyond that, “solar panels need to be kept clean and batteries need to be monitored” to make sure they’re at a healthy voltage.

Probes should be installed in areas that will provide representative data of the wider space under study. Once they’re in place, Drill & Drops can communicate with industry-standard data loggers and are compatible with data transmission over telemetry options like satellite, cellular or radio.

Drill & Drops are available in 24-inch or 48-inch lengths. They are able to take a true soil profile because they are installed with minimal disturbance to the soil. “Probes measure a relatively small section of soil, so it is critical that the soil being measured is representative of the majority of the area you wish to manage,” said Packer.

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