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Open AccessArticle

A Novel Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensor for Soil Moisture Estimation over Large Areas

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Padova, Via Marzolo 8, 35131 Padova, Italy
Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Viale Fanin 50, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Department of Sensing, Information and Mechanization Engineering, Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Volcani Center, Rishon Lezion 7505101, Israel
Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 202;
Received: 1 July 2019 / Revised: 2 September 2019 / Accepted: 11 September 2019 / Published: 14 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
A correct soil moisture estimation is a fundamental prerequisite for many applications: agriculture, meteorological forecast, flood and drought prediction, and, in general, water accounting and management. Traditional methods typically provide point-like measurements, but suffer from soil heterogeneity, which can produce significant misinterpretation of the hydrological scenarios. In the last decade, cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) has emerged as a promising approach for the detection of soil moisture content. CRNS can average soil moisture over a large volume (up to tens of hectares) of terrain with only one probe, thus overcoming limitations arising from the heterogeneity of the soil. The present paper introduces the development of a new CRNS instrument designed for agricultural applications and based on an innovative neutron detector. The new instrument was applied and tested in two experimental fields located in Potsdam (DE, Germany) and Lagosanto (IT, Italy). The results highlight how the new detector could be a valid alternative and robust solution for the application of the CRNS technique for soil moisture measurements in agriculture. View Full-Text
Keywords: CRNS; neutron; cosmic-ray; soil moisture; water; precision farming CRNS; neutron; cosmic-ray; soil moisture; water; precision farming
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Stevanato, L.; Baroni, G.; Cohen, Y.; Cristiano Lino, F.; Gatto, S.; Lunardon, M.; Marinello, F.; Moretto, S.; Morselli, L. A Novel Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensor for Soil Moisture Estimation over Large Areas. Agriculture 2019, 9, 202.

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