Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2022-20
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2022-20
 
01 Nov 2022
01 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Testing a novel sensor design to jointly measure cosmic-ray neutrons, muons and gamma rays for non-invasive soil moisture estimation

Stefano Gianessi1, Matteo Polo2, Luca Stevanato2, Marcello Lunardon2,3, Till Francke4, Sascha Oswald4, Hami Ahmed5, Arsenio Tolosa5, Georg Weltin5, Gerd Dercon5, Emil Fulajtar6, Lee Heng6, and Gabriele Baroni1 Stefano Gianessi et al.
  • 1Department of Agricultural and Food Science, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40127, Italy
  • 2FINAPP S.r.l., Montegrotto Terme (Padova), 35036, Italy
  • 3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Padova, Padova, 35100, Italy
  • 4Institute of Environmental Science and Geography, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory, Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture Vienna, Austria
  • 6Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture Vienna, Austria

Abstract. Cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) has emerged as a reliable method for soil moisture and snow estimation. However, the applicability of this method beyond research has been limited due to, among others, the use of relatively large and expensive sensors. This paper presents the tests conducted to a new scintillator-based sensor especially designed to jointly measure neutron counts, total gamma-rays, and muons. The neutron signal is firstly compared against two conventional gas-tube-based CRNS sensors at two locations (Austria and Germany). The estimated soil moisture is further assessed at four agricultural sites in Italy based on gravimetric soil moisture collected within the sensor footprint. The results show that the signal detected by the new scintillator-based CRNS sensor is well in agreement with the conventional CRNS sensors and with the gravimetric soil moisture measurements. In addition, the muons and the total gamma-rays simultaneously detected by the sensor show promising features for a better correction of the incoming variability and for discriminating irrigation and precipitation events, respectively. Further experiments and analyses should be conducted, however, to better understand the added value of these additional data for soil moisture estimation. Overall, the new scintillator design shows to be a valid and compact alternative to conventional CRNS sensors for non-invasive soil moisture monitoring that can open the path to a wide range of applications.

Stefano Gianessi et al.

Status: open (until 10 Jan 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gi-2022-20', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Nov 2022 reply

Stefano Gianessi et al.

Data sets

Data in support to the manuscript: Testing a novel sensor design to jointly measure cosmic-ray neutrons, muons and gamma rays for non-invasive soil moisture estimation by Gianessi et al. Gabriele Baroni https://zenodo.org/record/7261534

Model code and software

Spreadsheets for soil samples and CRNS data processing Gabriele Baroni https://zenodo.org/record/7156607

Stefano Gianessi et al.

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Short summary
Soil moisture monitoring is important for many applications, from improving weather prediction to support agriculture practices. Our capability to measure this variable is still, however, limited. In this study we show the tests conducted on a new soil moisture sensor at several locations. The results show that the new sensor is a valid and compact alternative to more conventional non-invasive soil moisture sensors that can open the path to a wide range of applications.