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Open AccessArticle

Soil Water Content Estimation Using High-Frequency Ground Penetrating Radar

1
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Research and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100048, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Soil Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
3
Research Center of Water and Soil Conservation Ecological Engineering and Technology, Beijing 100048, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(5), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11051036
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 14 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecohydrologic Feedbacks Between Vegetation, Soil, and Climate)
The rapid high-precision and nondestructive determination of shallow soil water content (SWC) is of vital importance to precision agriculture and water resource management. However, the low-frequency ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology currently in use is insufficient for precisely determining the shallow SWC. Therefore, it is essential to develop and use a high-precision detection technology to determine SWC. In this paper, a laboratory study was conducted to evaluate the use of a high-frequency GPR antenna to determine the SWC of loamy sand, clay, and silty loam. We collected soil samples (0–20 cm) of six soil types of loamy sand, clay, and silty loam and used a high-frequency (2-GHz) GPR antenna to determine the SWC. In addition, we obtained GPR data and images as well as characteristic parameters of the electromagnetic spectrum and analyzed the quantitative relationship with SWC. The GPR reflection two-way travel times and the known depths of reflectors were used to calculate the average soil dielectric permittivities above the reflectors and establish a spatial relationship between the soil dielectric permittivity ( ε ) and SWC ( θ ), which was used to estimate the depth-averaged SWC. The results show that the SWC, which affects the attenuation of wave energy and the wave velocity of the GPR signal, is a dominant factor affecting the soil dielectric permittivity. In addition, the conductivity, magnetic soil, soil texture, soil organic matter, and soil temperature have substantial effects on the soil dielectric permittivity, which consequentially affects the prediction of SWC. The correlation coefficients R2 of the θ   ~   ε cubic curve models, which were used to fit the relationships between the soil dielectric permittivity ( ε ) and SWC ( θ ), were greater than 0.89, and the root-mean-square errors were less than 2.9%, which demonstrate that high-frequency GPR technology can be applied to determine shallow SWC under variable hydrological conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: GPR; soil water content; soil dielectric permittivity; soil type; velocity of electromagnetic wave GPR; soil water content; soil dielectric permittivity; soil type; velocity of electromagnetic wave
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Zhou, L.; Yu, D.; Wang, Z.; Wang, X. Soil Water Content Estimation Using High-Frequency Ground Penetrating Radar. Water 2019, 11, 1036.

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