Submitted to: Soil Resources Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Emerging areas of technological advance in precision farming and land use assessment require measurement of the variability in soil properties across the landscape. These measurements are most useful if they provide immediate, real-time answers without the need for extensive, post-sampling laboratory procedures. In this paper we describe the current availability of real-time sensors for measuring a variety of different soil properties. In general, existing capabilities are relatively good for a number of important, time-varying properties such as water content and temperature, but there are no real-time methods available for a number of important intrinsic properties such as texture and cation exchange capacity. There are some exciting new developments for rapid, field measurement of organic matter content and soil stratigraphy, but they are in need of further testing to determine their limits of accuracy and applicability.
Technical Abstract: Some of the most exciting and potentially fruitful areas of applied research in soil science may depend for their success on the availability of sensors and methods for rapid measurement of soil properties across the landscape. Existing capabilities are relatively good for some transient soil properties, such as temperature and water content, while there are no real-time methods available for many of the intrinsic properties, such as texture and cation exchange capacity. Promising recent and ongoing developments include organic matter sensors, transportable devices for mapping soil electrical conductivity, acoustic sensors, and ground- penetrating radar. More research is needed to determine the nature and robustness of relationships between some of these measurements and the underlying soil properties of interest.