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Enabling better global research outcomes in soil, plant & environmental monitoring.


The Acclima TDR-310 series sensors are genuine Time Domain Reflectometers – complete with an integrated 350ps rise-time step function generator, a 10 cm waveguide, a 5ps resolution waveform digitiser and a precision time base that measures waveform temporal features as short as 5ps and as long as 20ns.


The built-in algorithms in its floating point microprocessor search the digitised waveform and capture the incident and reflected wave time ordinates and from these the permittivity of the medium surrounding the waveguide is calculated using the first-principals-based EM propagation equation. From that a proprietary dielectric mixing model calculates the water content of the medium. The mixing model matches the Topp Equation very closely up to around 46% water content but behaves in a more representative fashion up to 100% water content – providing the assurance that these TDR sensors can be used in all applications including slurries where water content may reach 100%. A precision thermistor is thermally coupled to the waveguide and reports medium temperature with ± 0.2°C accuracy. The waveguide electrodes are also used to measure the Electrical Conductivity of the medium. This property is also reported along with water content, permittivity and temperature.


This TDR soil water content sensor is from the same family of the other True TDRs, however its rounded form factor allows it to easily attached to a (schedule 40) 1″ PCV pipe and/or be inserted into an access tube as small as 1.25″ (schedule 40 PVC) to be inserted into the soil at a specified depth.

The device uses the standard SDI-12 interface, Version 1.3 and can be used with any Data Recorder or readout device that supports that standard. The integration of the Time Domain Reflectometer into a single package provides several advantages over conventional high performance TDR systems using a mainframe, coaxial cable and waveguide probe:

1. Conventional TDR systems use a TDR console coupled to a waveguide probe with a coaxial cable. An expensive high-performance coaxial cable is required to reduce the unwanted reflections from the impedance irregularities within the cable. Further the cable acts as a low pass filter that removes information from both the incident and reflected waves. The absence of the coaxial cable coupling the TDR electronics to the waveguide of the TDR-315 allows the full bandwidth of the step function generator to be applied to the waveguide and also facilitates an unfiltered capture of the reflected wave.

2. Conventional TDR systems cannot be deployed for continuous season – long field measurements without risking damage and a nuisance to crop managers. The Acclima TDR sensors can be completely installed in the root zone (without incurring root and compaction disturbances) and can remain there indefinitely. Soil tillage can be performed over the installation as long as the tillage depth does not reach within 2 inches of the sensor.

3. Power consumption of each TDR sensor is reasonably low allowing for low cost alkaline battery operation or rechargeable batteries coupled with a solar panel.

4. The cost of the cost of these Acclima TDR sensors is a small fraction of the cost of a conventional TDR set capable of equivalent performance.

5. All measurements are performed automatically without the need for setting up the console, cable, probe, PC and software. The “first-principles-based” calculations are also performed automatically and the multiple data points are delivered within 2 seconds in industry standard metrics.

Dimensions 15 cm x 3.5cm x 3.5cm (round)
Weight 460g
Construction Type 304 stainless steel, epoxy, ABS sensor head box
Cable 3 conductor, 22 Ga., Water proof and UV resistant PVC jacket, 10 meter
Operating Temp. -20°C to 50°C
Storage Temp. -20°C to 75°C
Operating Characteristics:
Volumetric Water Content 0 to 100%
Resolution 0.1% VWC
Absolute VWC Accuracy ±2% typical
VWC Temp Stability ± 1% of full scale 1°C – 50°C
VWC Soil EC Stability ± 2% of full scale 0 to 5 dS/m BEC
Temp Reporting Accuracy ± 0.2°C, 0 to 50°C
EC Reporting Accuracy ± 2.5% 100uS/cm 0 to 10,000 uS/cm BEC
Architectural Characteristics:
Technology Waveform Digitising Time Domain Reflectometer
Effective Acquisition Bandwidth 200 Giga-sample/sec.
Propagation Time Resolution 5 ps
Waveform Propagation Resolution 1.5 mm in air, 0.16 mm in water
Waveguide Length 10 cm
Permittivity to VWC Calculation Modified Dielectric Mixing Model
Propagation Waveform Bandwidth 3.5 GHz
Communications Characteristics:
Communication Protocol SDI-12 Revision 1.3
Maximum Cable Length 60 meters
Maximum Devices per Cable 50
Power Characteristics
Operating Voltage Range 6–15 VDC
Listening/Sleep Mode Current 31 uA typical, 35 uA max
Communications Current 6mA @ 6v, 3.5mA @ 12v
Read Moisture Comm Time 425 ms total for each read cycle
Moisture Sense Current 170mA
Soil Moisture Sense Time 2.0 seconds
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Accepted article: Evaluation of a digital TDR for determination of permittivity and bulk electrical conductivity
Dr. Robert Shwartz | USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bushland, Texas | True TDR

Evaluation of a Direct-Coupled TDR for Determination of Soil Water Content & Bulk EC
Dr. Robert Shwartz | USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bushland, Texas | True TDR

Soil Water Sensors for Agriculture – Theory & Issues
Dr. Steve Evett | USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bushland, Texas | True TDR

Strategies to Improve Productivity in a Water Stressed Future
Dr. Steve Evett | USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bushland, Texas | True TDR


A time domain transmission sensor with TDR performance characteristics
J.M. Blonquist, S.B. Jones, B. Robinson | Utah State University | Acclima TDT

Using Soil Water Sensors to Improve Irrigation Management
J. Chavez | Colorado State University | Acclima TDT

In Soil & Down Hole Soil Water Sensors: Characteristics for Irrigation Management
R. Lascano, Dr. Steve Evett, M. Pelletier, R. Schwartz | USDA | Acclima TDT

Performance Evaluation of  Selected Soil Moisture Sensors
J. Chavez, J. Varble, A. Andales | Colorado State University | Acclima TDT