Why it’s time to ditch hand held moisture meters

If you are still using your old faithful hand held moisture meter, it’s time to put it down and embrace the future…


Hand held moisture meters have been an essential piece of kit for most commercial indoor, tunnel and greenhouse growers for many years. But as technology advances, using this old equipment could be holding you back and can even risk the health of your crops. 


In their time, handheld moisture meters were excellent tools that offered both hobby and commercial growers the ability to keep an eye on their soil moisture content across their growing environment. The benefits that attracted many indoor growers to hand held moisture meters were their portability, simple functionality and low cost both in outlay and operating.


However, hand held moisture meters limit the quality of data that indoor growers can access, and this affects the level of control that growers have over their crops and growing environments. This has made way for a more up to date and smart solution.


What are the disadvantages of handheld moisture meters?


As indoor growers, it’s vital to monitor and measure the health and growth of your plants as closely as possible. The more detailed and accurate data you can collect, the more knowledge you will have about whether your plants essential needs are being met. 


Hand held moisture meters are limited in that they can only give you a current soil or substrate moisture reading. This can mean that growers have to manually take readings multiple times a day in order to gain a clear picture of moisture content. That’s a time-consuming activity, that has plenty of room for human error and this can impact the quality of the data recorded. 


Taking manual readings as and when required can leave large time gaps in which potentially major issues could occur. For example, if your irrigation system has an issue and this happens between readings it could be hours before you realise and your plants could already have suffered damage.  


Depending on the method used to record manual moisture readings, it can be difficult to make good use of this data. Readings recorded on a whiteboard for instance are only useful until the board is erased, taking with it a wealth of historical information. Data recorded using pen and paper, or even in spreadsheets is difficult to analyze from a larger scale viewpoint or by multiple team members at the same time. 


Losing, or not storing historical data means that you are not able to make any year on year comparisons or analyses about different growing methods you may have tried. It also impedes data-driven decision making and crop planning for future grow cycles. 


Commercial indoor growing environments are generally hives of activity, there’s lots of different tasks happening and several different team members working in the same spaces. Whilst the portability of hand held moisture meters lends itself to these environments because the kit can easily be passed between team members etc. it’s also part of the downfall of this equipment.


Tools that are used by multiple people, in busy working environments will always be at risk of becoming damaged or lost. This results in having to regularly fix or replace it which all comes at a cost that could easily be avoided. 


Consistency of location is also a key issue that comes with hand held moisture meters. However careful you are, it’s highly unlikely that you will press the meters probe into the exact same spot as before. Whilst this may not seem like a huge issue, it can lead to inconsistencies in the data collected, and to grow to the highest level possible you need to collect data as accurately as possible.


The future of moisture meters


In response to the frustrations caused by the disadvantages of hand held moisture meters, technology has stepped in to bring us some solutions that provide growers with much more insight and detailed data collection. 


There are now a number of options to choose from when it comes to investing in moisture content monitoring equipment, from hand held meters to fixed meters with digital displays and more advanced meters that transmit to data loggers or the cloud. 


Depending on the scale and level of your operation, the less advanced options may still be adequate enough for your requirements. But investing in the more advanced options is essential for large scale or commercial growers as data accuracy and frequency becomes more and more vital. 


Grow Sensor’s moisture meter


To gain the most accurate and high-quality data you want to choose a moisture meter that links with a smart agri-sensor that is designed to monitor all the environmental conditions in your growing environment. 


The Grow Sensor has the ability to link up with multiple fixed point moisture sensors so that you can gain a detailed overall picture of your growing environment. 


One of the key advantages of this kind of setup is that moisture readings will be taken 24 hours a day, and all of that data will feed into the Grow Sensors on a live basis meaning that you will always have access to an up to date view of your growing space. No more manual reading and recording required! 


The Grow Sensor soil probe also measures substrate temperature and EC too.


The volume and accuracy of the data that can be recorded with multiple moisture meters and smart agri-sensors also come with the benefit of gaining that all-important store of historical data. This provides you with the maximum amount of information you need in order to make data-driven decisions about the development of your grow cycles and your growing environment on the whole. 


Analysing the wealth of data collected is simpler than any traditional method of recording because the data is automatically analysed and displayed into graphs for you and your team to view as and when they like via the Grow Sensor desktop dashboard or mobile app. 


Whilst handing the task of moisture readings over to a system like this is never going to replace the need for regular human-based observation of your crops, it does free up your staff to take on other vital tasks within the growing environment. And with this comes greater efficiency and potentially lower labour costs. 


Stepping into the future, and saying goodbye to your hand held moisture meters has multiple benefits for you and your team, and is certainly going to elevate your operations to the next level. We are all striving to improve the quality of our products and this might just be the next action to take to ensure that your enterprise stays ahead of your competitors.  




Hand held moisture meters are no longer fit for purpose in large scale or commercial indoor or covered growing environments. 


The data that can be collected through the use of hand held moisture meters is limited and prone to inaccuracies. 


To have maximum control as an indoor grower, you want to have constant access to high level live data and the best way to do this is to invest in a network of smart agri sensors such as Grow Sensors and interlinked moisture meters. 


A network of Grow Sensors and moisture meters will give you detailed and accurate data from which you can make data-driven decisions about your business. 


Embracing technology and combining it with a skilled and knowledgeable team is a key way to stay ahead of your competitors. 

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Author avatar
Didi Aben
Didi Aben, Content creator at Grow- the smart agri-sensor. Sustainable living specialist and keen allotment grower. Happiest exploring the Cornish coast path or ancient woodlands. Didi is currently open for Guest posts

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