Back to monitoring outcomes

Electrical Conductivity

  • Soil Health

  • Chemical


Measuring electrical conductivity (EC) in soils is crucial for evaluating soil health, providing valuable insights into the dynamics of water and soil quality, nutrient cycling, and the overall well-being of ecosystems (Allen et al., 2005).

EC reflects the concentration of ions, including dissolved salts, in the soil solution. Elevated salt levels can have detrimental effects on plant growth, soil-water balance, and subsequently impact biological activity and nutrient cycling (Allen et al., 2005; Arias et al., 2005). Such salinity issues may arise naturally or result from inappropriate soil use and management practices (Arias et al., 2005).

The assessment of EC is not only indicative of potential challenges but also serves as an early warning system for changes in the composition and functionality of soil microbial communities (Yang et al., 2020).

Methodology summary

Handheld EC meter: A handheld EC meter is a simple and easy-to-use tool that measures the EC value of soil extract. The meter is equipped with a probe that is inserted into the soil extract, and the reading is displayed on a digital screen.

Laboratory analysis: Soil samples can be sent to a laboratory for analysis, where the EC value is measured using a conductivity meter. This method provides accurate results, but it can be time-consuming and expensive.

Soluble salt test strips: Soluble salt test strips are paper strips that are dipped into a soil extract. The color of the strip changes based on the EC value of the soil extract, and the result can be compared to a color chart to determine the EC value.

Electrical resistivity imaging (ERI): ERI is a geophysical method that uses electrodes to measure the electrical resistivity of soil. By measuring the resistivity, the EC value of the soil can be estimated.

Soil moisture sensor: Soil moisture sensors are commonly used in smart agriculture to help farmers in real-time and remotely monitor soil EC and ensure optimal plant growth.

Metric threshold or direction of change

New South Wales (NSW) Government – A productive soil’s conductivity should be below 0.15 dS/m (decisiemens per metre).


  • Agricultural
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Peatland
  • Saltmarsh
  • Wetland


  • Community


  • Medium


  • Tier 1

Technical expertise

  • Low

Standardised methodology

  • Partial