United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
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Water and Climate Program
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Soil Moisture/Soil Temperature Pilot Project

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has taken leadership in remote monitoring of natural resources by establishing a Soil Moisture/Soil Temperature (SM/ST) Pilot Project (formerly called Global Climate Change Pilot Project) in 1990. Twenty-one sites have been established in nineteen states across the United States. These sites have been operating since 1992 using meteor burst communication techniques for obtaining remote site information.

There is currently no nationally coordinated system available to collect, interpret, integrate, and archive atmospheric and soil climatic data that are required for natural resource assessment and analysis and global change research. Soil moisture and soil temperature baseline information is critically needed to make better resource management decisions.

The SM/ST Pilot Project:
  • Demonstrated the feasibility of a national, NRCS remote data collection system for gathering soil and atmospheric resource information.
  • Continues to resolve existing technical challenges associated with sensor design, sensor interfaces for remote data transmission, and data management concerns.
  • Successfully partnered with the six Regional Climate Centers across the U.S. to identify existing networks.
  • Provides the SM/ST Pilot Project soil moisture and soil temperature information to users through the Internet, or a dial up, menu driven computer system.