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Sensors 2018, 18(9), 2880; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18092880

A Novel Dielectric Tomography System for In-Situ Tracking Three-Dimensional Soil Water Dynamics

1
College of Information and Electrical Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
2
School of Technology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 July 2018 / Revised: 20 August 2018 / Accepted: 20 August 2018 / Published: 31 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Collection Sensors in Agriculture and Forestry)
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Abstract

In this study, we developed a novel dielectric tomography system for in-situ tracking three-dimensional (3D) soil water dynamics. The system was designed to control a single dielectric tube sensor that automatically lowered in a PVC tube array installed in-situ to determine the water content of a soil profile, which eliminated probe-to-probe uncertainties and labor costs. Two tests for evaluating the novel system were conducted (i) to analyze and correct the positional error of the probe due to out-of-step errors of stepper motors, and (ii) to track and visualize 3D soil water temporal variations in a soil tank with heterogenetic bulk densities and initial water contents under drip irrigation. The results show that the positioning correcting algorithm combined with starting point alignment can minimize the positioning error of the probe during the 3D tomography. The single drip emitter test illustrated spatial and temporal variations of soil water content due to heterogeneous soil properties in vertical and horizontal directions around the access tube array. Based on these data, 3D distributions of soil water dynamics were visualized. The developed tomography system has potential application to be extended to the local scale in a greenhouse or the large scale in an agricultural field. Future research should explore the performance for agricultural crop irrigation or for modeling and validating soil water flow or hydrological process under either steady state or non-steady state condition. View Full-Text
Keywords: dielectric tomography; three-dimension; soil water dynamic; in-situ measurement; tube array dielectric tomography; three-dimension; soil water dynamic; in-situ measurement; tube array
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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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Yu, S.; Chen, C.; Xu, Q.; Cheng, Q.; Yan, X.; Yu, Z.; Ma, Y.; Chen, H. A Novel Dielectric Tomography System for In-Situ Tracking Three-Dimensional Soil Water Dynamics. Sensors 2018, 18, 2880.

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