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Soil Imaging Penetrometer: A Tool for Obtaining Real-Time In-Situ Soil Images

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  013107,  2001 ASAE Annual Meeting. (doi: 10.13031/2013.7426) @2001
Authors:   Dan Rooney, John Norman, Sabine Grunwald

Many soil properties can be assessed through visual inspection. These include color, some mineralogical, textural, structural, chemical, and transport related attributes. However, the collection and analysis of soil data in an efficient and effective manner at landscape scales is a scientific and technical challenge. Current best available technology standards for visually assessing soil properties at a given location require the collection of soil core samples or the construction of a soil pit. This is a labor intensive and time consuming process. Usually the removal of a sample from an in-situ environment irreparably alters the soil property either through sample manipulation or exposure to ex-situ conditions. The objective of this study was to develop a tool that would help to overcome some of the limitations of traditional soil sampling techniques. We developed a Soil Imaging Penetrometer (SIP) that enables real-time, in-situ acquisition of subsurface imagery. The SIP was tested with a hydraulic soil-coring device mounted on a truck. Images enable the viewing of features in the range of tens of microns (10 -6 m) and can be stored on a recording device or computer located above ground. Images representing virtual soil cores are 4 x 4 mm in size and continuous to the depth of testing. The imagery clearly demonstrates the ability of the SIP to detect soil attributes such as color, texture, microstructure, some mineralogical characteristics, as well as information that can be used to assess soil-water properties. Imagery can be analyzed using image-processing software that aids in the quantification of SIP data. This can help to remove some of the subjectivity from the estimations of soil properties. SIP data can be easily stored, transferred, or used in models that require the input of soil property information.

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