Now- I KNOW I made you look to see how I managed to have any moist soil to test, but I am inquiring so I can be at the ready in the off chance that if EVER rains again. So no need to be jealous, only moisture around here is sweat LOL
I bought a cheap meter from harbor freight, it can tell the difference between night and day, that's about it.
Soil moisture sensors? Aren't those usually called plants? :P
If you can't drive any metal stake in your soil, it is very dry.
If you can push your shovel in the ground, it is moist.
If you can push your finger in the soil, it is very wet.
Last yr we started getting rain in August hopefully we will see rain in the next few wks. DH was running the tiller today & is covered in dirt you can see where the tractor seat kept his clothes clean.
I use the soil moisture testers. The secret is they have to be cleaned regularly. We use steel wool to scrub off the dirt or soak them in vinegar. The optimal moisture level is between 3 & 4 on the cheap ones I ordered from amazon (1-4 is the scale) & the ones I bought locally have a scale of 1-10 & about 8or9 is perfect. Steve Upson had calibrated the cheap ones with a fancy $100 tensiometer. I keep one at the end of every row & love them. I would love to have the fancy one but I bought 10 cheap ones & I will stick to those for now.
I need one of those meters that sucks the moisture when the soil is too wet, and injects moisture when it is too dry. I almost always have too wet soil in the spring and too dry in the summer. If the soil is too dry to till without making dust I spray water on it. I have not figured out how to pull the moisture out when it is too wet.
I bought a cheapo one that I got at home depot that is a green meter on a long pole looking thing and it works great. I can push it down the number of inches I want and it reads the soil moisture at that depth.
I will try to post a picture of it if I can find one.