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Sensors 2017, 17(10), 2395; https://doi.org/10.3390/s17102395

Real-Time Monitoring of Water Content in Sandy Soil Using Shear Mode Piezoceramic Transducers and Active Sensing—A Feasibility Study

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204, USA
2
College of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Zhengjiang SCI-TECH University, Hangzhou 310018, China
3
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204, USA
These authors contributes equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 September 2017 / Revised: 15 October 2017 / Accepted: 18 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Abstract

A quantitative understanding of soil water content or soil water status is of great importance to many applications, such as landslide monitoring, rockfill dam health monitoring, precision agriculture, etc. In this paper, a feasibility study was conducted to monitor the soil water content in real time using permanent embedded piezoceramic-based transducers called smart aggregates (SAs). An active sensing approach using a customized swept acoustic wave with a frequency range between 100 Hz and 300 kHz was used to study the wave attenuation in the soil in correlation to soil moisture levels. Two sandy soil specimens, each embedded with a pair of SAs, were made in the laboratory, and the water percentage of the soil specimens was incrementally decreased from 15% to 3% during the tests. Due to the change of the soil water status, the damping property of the soil correspondingly changes. The change of the damping property results in the variation of the acoustic wave attenuation ratios. A wavelet packet-based energy index was adopted to compute the energy of the signal captured by the SA sensor. Experimental results show a parabolic growth curve of the received signal energy vs. the water percentage of the soil. The feasibility, sensitivity, and reliability of the proposed method for in-situ monitoring of soil water status were discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: piezoceramic transducers; active sensing; soil water content monitoring; real time monitoring; wavelet packet analysis piezoceramic transducers; active sensing; soil water content monitoring; real time monitoring; wavelet packet analysis
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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 (CC BY 4.0).
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Kong, Q.; Chen, H.; Mo, Y.-L.; Song, G. Real-Time Monitoring of Water Content in Sandy Soil Using Shear Mode Piezoceramic Transducers and Active Sensing—A Feasibility Study. Sensors 2017, 17, 2395.

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