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Irrigation control through acoustic proximal sensing of the onset of surface water

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posted on 2023-05-03, 18:40 authored by Stuart Bradley, Anna Radionova, Chandra GhimireChandra Ghimire, Laura GrundyLaura Grundy, Seth LaurensonSeth Laurenson, Val SnowVal Snow
Irrigation is a useful crop enhancement procedure up to the point where free surface water appears. However, over-irrigation can lead to an accumulation of free water on the soil surface, which in turn results in overland flow and a high risk of contaminant loss. The current work addresses the problem of measuring free water on the surface of agricultural soils by a real-time acoustic remote sensing method. Directional acoustic transmitter and receiver arrays are used to define a “footprint” on the ground from which changes in reflectance are sensed. These arrays are mounted on a moving irrigator. Chirp signals are used to provide along-path resolution and to ensure robustness against unwanted acoustic background noise from farm machinery and the irrigator. Field measurements have been conducted above a well-defined “quadrat” with controlled and measured water content and also with the instrument mounted on an operational irrigator. A structured light camera mounted above the footprint is used to validate surface water fraction. It is found that the areal fraction of free water on the soil surface can be reliably estimated from changes in the amplitude of the reflected sound waves. The mechanism giving rise to the observed acoustic reflectivity changes is discussed and a model is developed which agrees with normalized intensity observations with a coefficient of determination R2 between 0.65 and 0.83. The rms error between model predictions and observations is comparable to the rms variation of the measurements, indicating that there is insignificant error due to the choice of model.


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© This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


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Journal title

Remote Sensing




Bradley, S., Radionova, A., Ghimire, C., Grundy, L., Laurenson, S., & Snow, V. (2020). Irrigation control through acoustic proximal sensing of the onset of surface water. Remote Sensing, 12(22), 3800. doi:10.3390/rs12223800

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