A tensiometer is a device used to determine matrix water potential Ψm (soil moisture tension) in the vadose zone. The tensiometer is buried in the soil, and a hand pump is used to pull a partial vacuum. As water is pulled out of the soil by plants and evaporation, the vacuum inside the tube increases. As water is added to the soil, the vacuum inside the tube pulls moisture from the soil and decreases. The actual gauge reading will vary according to the type of soil, the moisture content, and due to hysteresis, according to the saturation history of the soil.

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