Office Hours 12: Soil water potential

Office Hours 12: Soil water potential

Soil water potential is vital to understanding the water status of your plants. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get lost in trying to understand all the complexities of the formula.

But just like temperature, you don’t have to know why it works, just in what range your plants are happiest. In this episode of Office Hours, Environment Support Manager, Chris Chambers, and Director of Science Outreach, Leo Rivera answer submitted questions about water potential, including:

  • Does dry soil affect measurements of soil suction?
  • Where would you see positive soil pressure in situations that are less than saturated?
  • Can water potential be measured in soilless media?
  • How does organic material impact water potential measurements?
  • How can you relate water soil water potential to soil water content?
  • How close can water potential and water content sensors be placed?
  • And more.


Chris Chambers operates as the Environment Support Manager and the Soil Moisture Sensor Product Manager at METER Group, the world leader in soil moisture measurement. He specializes in ecology and plant physiology and has over 10 years of experience helping researchers measure the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum.

Leo Rivera operates as a research scientist and Director of Science Outreach at METER Group, the world leader in soil moisture measurement. He earned his undergraduate degree in Agriculture Systems Management at Texas A&M University, where he also got his master’s degree in Soil Science. There he helped develop an infiltration system for measuring hydraulic conductivity used by the NRCS in Texas. Currently, Leo is the force behind application development in METER’s hydrology instrumentation, including the SATURO, HYPROP and WP4C. He also works in R&D to explore new instrumentation for water and nutrient movement in soil.


Our scientists have decades of experience helping researchers and growers measure the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum.

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Defining Water Potential—What It Is. How to Use It.

Understand the different components of water potential and how to use them. Water potential is the energy required, per quantity of water, to transport an infinitesimal quantity of water from the sample to a reference pool of pure free water.


Choosing the Right Water Potential Sensor in 2023

If you’re not measuring water potential, or not measuring it correctly, your data could be telling you the wrong thing. Water content measurements can only tell you so much, and inferring water potential from water content is inaccurate at best, and completely misleading in worst-case scenarios.


How to Measure Water Potential

Compare current methods for measuring water potential and the pros and cons of each method.


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