Evaluation of EC-5 Soil Moisture Sensorsfor Real-Time Determination of PoultryManure or Litter Moisture Content

Mendes, Luciano
Li, Hong
Xin, Hongwei
Xin, Hongwei
Barbosa do Nascimento, José
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Moisture content (Ψ) of poultry manure or litter is an important property of the material. Relating manure or litter Ψ to its ammonia (NH3) emission is conducive to assessing and/or controlling real-time ammonia emissions from the manure or litter. However, means to measure manure or litter Ψ on a real-time basis is lacking. This study was carried out to characterize the operational performance of a commercially available soil moisture sensor for measuring Ψ of meat-bird (broiler and turkey) litters and laying-hen manure. The Ψ tested ranged from 27.1% to 65.7% for broiler litter, 22.8% to 56.1% for turkey litter, and 11.0% to 75.0% for layer manure. Bulk density ranged from 318 to 468 kg m-3 (20 to 29 lb ft-3) for the broiler and turkey litters and from 151 to 943 kg m-3(9 to 55 lb ft-3) for laying-hen manure. Linear regression equations were developed to relate the sensor output to Ψ and I for the meat-bird litters and to Ψ for the laying-hen manure, all yielding good fit (R2=0.95 – 0.99). An uncertainty analysis performed on the developed calibration equations revealed average errors in the Ψ estimation of ±7.1% estimated value for the poultry litters and ±6.7% estimated value for the laying-hen manure. Litter temperature was found to have a small impact on Ψ measurement by the sensor, 0.31% of measured mV per °C (0.17% per °F) deviation from the mean operating temperature over the range of 4°C to 24°C (39°F to 75°F). Results of the study indicate that when properly calibrated, the soil moisture sensor offers a reasonable means for real-time measurement of poultry litter or manure moisture content.


This article is from Applied Engineering in Agriculture 30 (2014): 277–284, doi:10.13031/aea.30.10158. Posted with permission.