About the AM400 soil moisture monitor

About the
soil moisture

Product Description

pivot go to NCAT go to MT Rivers fish
    The AM400 Soil Moisture Monitor:
Comments from Producers

Operation and Convenience

"I can keep a close handle on irrigation…Helps me keep water out of the subsoils."

"Gives you a reading of exactly where the water is at and what it’s doing."

"It’s a tool to manage the crop along with visual observation of the crop."

"As long as we’re in the business, we’re going to keep working with it."

"I don’t have to remember all this stuff. I just push the damn button."
"Nobody that I know can look at the field and really tell you how dry it is beneath the surface…

You push the button and it tells you how dry it really is."

"It’s a pretty simple outfit, really…a snap to use."

"The meter said that 6 hours was all we needed. Even if it started out at 90 centibars, we got down
to 10 centibars within 6 hours."

"I looked at the monitor every day, at least, and sometimes two or three times per day."

"Surprised how much effect wind and humidity make on depletion of soil moisture…Unbelievable."


The AM400 "absolutely helped my yields…much less wasted water."

"I might have lost the crop this summer if I’d kept running 24 hour sets."

"Helps in yields."

"I may have stayed off this [wet] area for a week."

"One of our best crops ever…Definitely made a difference to my total
production. I didn’t let the crop get hurt" by last summer’s hot dry weather.

Energy Savings

"The thing that’s going to change water use is the utility bill."

"The energy is the big concern of pretty much everybody."

"As we learn to use it, I believe we can save quite a little energy…I think this is going to be the salvation of it if we learn how to work it."

"We used to run 5-6 hour sets through the growing season and 8-hour sets during hot weather. This year we ran 2-hour sets in the spring, 3-hour sets through May, and 4-5 hour sets when it got hot."

Cost: Can something like this be justified economically?

The cost is "realistic for the knowledge you gain."

"I’d do it…I’d buy one."

"I think I would buy one. It’s going to teach us something we don’t know…There’s a hell of a lot we’ve got to learn."

"I think so. It gives you an education on how to use your pumps more efficiently…makes it so it’s not as much of a guessing game."

"I’d be interested in buying one…It would probably pay for itself in a year, especially a wetter year…It’s going to be a hell of a lot more attractive to buy it when power rates go up."

"It costs us $1500 to $2000 every time we irrigate our fields. If it saved you one irrigation in three to four years it would pay for itself."

"In today’s farming inputs are more expensive. Crops take more inputs and more expensive inputs…Sooner or later, precision will be demanded."

"There’s nothing to it."
"Anybody could do it."
It’s "not that high tech."
"In hindsight, we could have put the probes much closer to the box."
"I don’t think you need one in every field. If there isn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between two fields, I don’t see why you’d need two monitors."

"The shorter the cable the better, unless you have something really unique about your field."


For more information, contact:

go to NCAT
The National Center for Appropriate Technology
Mike Morris, Project Leader, mikem@ncat.org, 406-494-8660 or 1-800-ASK-NCAT

The Montana Rivers Project
National Center for Appropriate Technology
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 3838
3040 Continental Drive
Butte, Montana 59702