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2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop

Aug 14
August 14, 2023 - August 17, 2023
Beltsville, MD
A seedling grows out of the soil in the rain, representing soil moisture.

Stimulating progress towards realizing the National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network's vision was a key goal of the 2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop, held on August 14–17, 2023 at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD. The 2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NIDIS. This was the 14th consecutive year for the workshop, which was started by the researchers who created the Marena, Oklahoma, In Situ Sensor Testbed (MOISST). It has now grown to be a premier event for sharing soil moisture research and applications.

Video recordings are now available for the workshop presentations. Or, see below for a detailed agenda with links to individual presentations.

2023 Soil Moisture Community Leadership Award Recipient: Dr. Tyson Ochsner

Marina Skumanich presents Tyson Ochsner with the Soil Moisture Community Award at the 2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop.
Marina Skumanich presents Tyson Ochsner with the Soil Moisture Community Award at the 2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop. Photo credit: Michael Cosh, USDA ARS.

As a highlight of the workshop, the workshop organizing committee and the National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network (NCSMMN)  Coordinating Team awarded Dr. Tyson Ochsner the 2023 Soil Moisture Community Leadership Award, in recognition of his unflagging commitment to building the soil moisture community and to advancing soil moisture monitoring, as well as his highly impactful research applying soil moisture information to urgent natural resource issues. Dr. Ochsner is a Professor of Plant & Soil Sciences at Oklahoma State University. He was one of the founding organizers of both the Marena Oklahoma In Situ Sensor Testbed (MOISST) and the annual National Soil Moisture Workshop. He has also served on the NCSMMN Coordinating Team for several years. 

The Soil Moisture Community Leadership Award is presented annually at the National Soil Moisture Workshop to the individual—whether a researcher or practitioner—who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to building the soil moisture community of practice and delivering soil moisture–related products and services to support the public good. 


Workshop Agenda & Presentation Recordings

Monday, August 14: Field School (No Recordings Available)

Time (ET)


9:00 am

In-Room Session at National Agricultural Library

Mike Cosh, USDA ARS

1:15  pmField Session

Mike Cosh, USDA ARS

VIctoria Walker, USDA ARS

Todd Caldwell, USGS

4:15 pmEnd of Day


Tuesday, August 15: General Session Day 1
Time (ET)TopicSpeaker/Moderator
Session 1:  Soil Moisture Networks | Moderator: Marina Skumanich  
Session 2:  Soil Moisture Networks (Continued): Drought  |  Moderator: Todd Caldwell
Lunch Discussion: Soil Moisture Data Quality and Metadata Guidance Documents
|  Moderator:  Marina Skumanich, NIDIS 
Session 3:  Data Quality  |  Moderator: Todd Caldwell
9:00 am

Welcome and Overview

USDA Perspectives on the Value of Soil Moisture Observations

  • Marina Skumanich, NIDIS
  • Mark Brusberg, USDA
9:40 amSoil Moisture Monitoring in the Urban LandscapeKatalin Szlavecz, Johns Hopkins University
9:55 amSoutheastern U.S. Soil Moisture Network Build-OutLee Ellenburg, University of Alabama in Huntsville
10:10 amLoRa Telemetry Network for Soil Moisture Monitoring (recording not available)Patrick Haluska, U.S. Geological Survey
11:00 amU.S. Climate Reference Network Status UpdateTilden Meyers, NOAA ARL (virtual)
11:15 amNRCS Soil Moisture Sensor PlatformsKent Sutcliffe, USDA NRCS
11:30 amReal-Time Measurements to Improve Drought MonitoringAshish Raval, Synoptic Data
11:45 amThe Role of Soil Moisture in Compounding Droughts and Heatwave Event Intensity and ExposureRonald Leeper, NCEI/NC State
12:30 pmSoil Moisture Data Quality GuidanceNandita Gaur, University of Georgia
12:50 pm Soil Moisture Metadata GuidanceBriana Wyatt, Texas A&M University
1:10 pm Community Discussion and Feedback 
2:30 pmNew Multi-State Soil Moisture TestbedsAndres Patrignani, Kansas State University
2:45 pmDeveloping Tools to Assess Soil Moisture Sensor Accuracy and VariabilityChris Chambers, METER Group
3:00 pmEvaluating the Utility of Machine Learning to Quality Control Soil Moisture ObservationsGarrett Graham, NC Institute for Climate Studies / NOAA NCEI
3:15 pmEvaluating Eight In Situ Soil Moisture Sensors with a CPN 503DR HydroprobeWilliam Brown, Oklahoma State University
3:30 pmPoster Session


Wednesday, August 16: General Session Day 2
Time (ET)TopicSpeaker/Moderator
Session 4:  Applications  |  Moderator: John Bolten
Session 5:  Applications, including Remote-Sensing Applications  |  Moderator: Peter Goble
Session 6:  Remote-Sensing Applications (Continued)  |  Moderator:  Briana Wyatt
Session 7: Forest Soil Moisture Monitoring*  |  Moderator: Scott Jones
9:00 amKeynote: How Soil Moisture Information Improves Drought Risk Protection Provided by the USDA Livestock Forage Disaster ProgramTyson Ochsner, Oklahoma State University
9:30 amPresentation of National Soil Moisture Community Leadership Award (Recording included at end of Tyson Ochsner's presentation)
9:45 amMachine Intelligence for Estimating Soil Water Flux from Soil Moisture DataStephen Farrington, Transcend Engineering
10:00 amA New High-Resolution Soil Moisture Analysis from UFS Land ModelLi Xu, NOAA Climate Prediction Center
10:45 amTesting the Newhall Water Budget Approach for Predicting Watershed-Scale Soil Moisture in the S. Central US Matt Levi, University of Georgia
11:00 amInforming Decision Making Using Ground and Satellite-based Soil Moisture – What We've LearnedJohn Bolten, NASA
11:15 amHigh-Resolution Soil Moisture Mapping of Natural Lands Using an UAS-Based L-Band Radiometer in Sonoma Co., CA (recording not available)Michelle Stern, USGS
11:30 amPrecision Soil Moisture Monitoring with L-Band Drone MappingRobin Kim, University of Virginia
11:50 amCampbell Scientific–Sponsored Lunch (70 minutes) – Including Community Discussion on Future NSMW Meetings
1:00 pmIdentifying the Optimal Approach for Developing a 1-km Downscaled Soil Moisture Product for CONUSEshita A Eva, Ohio State University (virtual)
1:15 pm Sustainable L-Band Soil Moisture Measurements from the Muon Small Satellite ConstellationClara Chew, Muon Space (virtual)
1:30 pmUsing Dense Radar Time Series for Mapping Soil Moisture Trends in ForestsSimon Kraatz, USDA ARS
1:45 pm The Upper Missouri River Basin Build-out: Transforming Soil Moisture and Snowpack MonitoringNathan Edwards, South Dakota Mesonet
2:30 pmHow Soil Moisture Influences Forest Management of the Daniel Boone National ForestClaudia Cotton, USDA Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest
2:45 pmLeveraging the Soil Biome for Soil Moisture: A Tool to Maintain Healthy Forests and WatershedsLisa Markovchick, Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes / Northern Arizona University
3:00 pmMeasuring and Modeling Soil Moisture in Complex TerrainBenjamin Rau, USDA Forest Service
3:15 pmHigh (~6m) Resolution Soil Moisture over Forests and Mountains Using Airborne and Satellite RadarSeungbum Kim, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
3:30 pmPoster Session


Thursday, August 17: General Session Day 3
Time (ET)TopicSpeaker/Moderator
Introduction to Forest Focus Session:  Why We Need Forest Soil Moisture Monitoring*
Session 8: Challenges for Monitoring Forest Soil Moisture – Defining What & How to Monitor
Session 9: Panel Discussion: Methods and Approaches for Gathering Soil Moisture Data
Session 10: Panel Discussion: What Do Land Managers Need Soil Moisture Data For?
Session 11: Modeling
Session 12: Closing Comments, Outcomes, and Next Steps
8:45 amWelcomeCynthia West, USFS Northern Research Station Director, and Forest Products Lab Director
9:00 amWhat We Hope to Achieve and How We Got Here: Follow-Up from the 2018 Monitoring Forest Soil Moisture in a Changing World MeetingRich Pouyat, Scientist Emeritus, USFS  
9:15 amCurrent Knowledge/Data, Gaps, and NeedsRussell Briggs, SUNY ESF 
9:30 amRelevancy of Forest Soil Moisture Monitoring in the Context of the NCSMMN Strategy Publication (recording not available)Steven Quiring, Ohio State University
9:45 amExisting and Near Future Potential for Forest Soil Moisture MonitoringStephanie Connolly, USDA Forest Service
10:15 - 11:00 amIn Situ MonitoringClaudia Cotton, USDA Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest
Remotely-Sensed dataMike Cosh, USDA ARS
ModelingTyson Ochsner, Oklahoma State University
Citizen Science / Conditions MonitoringPeter Goble, Colorado State University
11:00 – 12:00 amWildfire 
(Modeling, forecasting, risk ratings)
Zach Holden, USFS Region 1 Montana (virtual)
(Forecasting, status, rankings)
Mark Brusberg, USDA Chief Meteorologist
Forest Health and Management
(Soil moisture links to resiliency, harvest-trafficability, drought and flood risk assessments, adaptive management strategies)
John Kabrick, USFS Northern Research Station
Geomorphologic Hazard Prediction (Soil moisture as an indicator for mast wasting, landslides, floods)Lynne Chastain-Carpenter, USFS Geologic Hazards Coordinator, Washington Office (VIRTUAL)
Urban Settings
(Urban grasslands and forests, how to implement)
Ian Yesilonis, US Forest Service Northern Research Station
1:00 pmOverview of Existing Modeling ActivitiesCarlos Quintero, ORISE Fellow
1:15 pmData Availability & Sensor Technologies: What Data Do Models Need?Noemi Vergopolan, Princeton University
1:30 pmCase Study: Linking the Dynamic Soil Survey and Ecohydrology at the Sierra Ancha Experimental ForestSalli Dymond, Northern Arizona University (virtual)
1:45 pm Discussion 
2:15 pm
  • How do we develop a framework for forest soil monitoring that addresses previously discussed challenges while being consistent with the current NCSMMN Framework?
  • How can forests and grasslands fit into the existing soil moisture networks that focus on agricultural lands?
  • What product should come out of this workshop?
Stephanie Connolly, Moderator


Attendees at the 2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop gather outside.
Attendees at the 2023 National Soil Moisture Workshop. Photo credit: Michael Cosh, USDA ARS.

Workshop Organizing Committee

  • Todd Caldwell, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Michael Cosh, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • John Bolten, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Stephanie Connolly, U.S. Forest Service, USDA
  • Trent Ford, University of Illinois
  • Peter Goble, Colorado State University
  • Scott Jones, Utah State University
  • Steven Quiring, The Ohio State University
  • Marina Skumanich, NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System
  • Briana Wyatt, Texas A&M University

For more information, please contact Michael Cosh ( or