Research: Current Research

Current Research


Evaluating Soil Conductivity Versus Infiltration on a 6,000 Acre Almond Farm

V. Philip Rasmussen, S. Chod Stephens, Steve Stakland, Utah State University, Logan, Utah; Jay Payne, South Valley Farms, California

A new quad-phase (conductivity) and in-phase (susceptibility) conductivity meter was used to evaluate soil salinity that is exacerbating infiltration problems on a large corporate almond/pistachio farm. Initial measurements indicate the use of such a meter may be of value in evaluating some soil constituents for precision management on an extremely large farm in the Central Valley of California.

California Soil Infiltration with EM38

We are also comparing this instrument to a new dual-band microwave sensor of our own design.

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Modulated Dual-Band (10 ghz / 24 ghz) Gunnplexer Sensor for Soil Moisture and Electrical Conductivity

V. Philip Rasmussen, S. Chod Stephens; Utah State University, Logan, Utah

Microwave instrument

Many techniques are used to measure sorbed soil moisture by microwave attenuation and dielectric techniques. However, all use sophisticated and costly measurement instrumentation and have been limited to moisture measurements of bulk flows (such as in cement plants) where large volumes flow by the immobile microwave detection device.

The testing of a relatively inexpensive microwave source and detector (Gunn-effect diodes in a resonant cavity, separated by an adsorptive matrix) is underway to produce a small, portable, "in-situ" instrument that can be used at varied depths, such as in agronomic in-field soil moisture studies.

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Remote Sensing with UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

V. Philip Rasmussen, S. Chod Stephens, Tyrel Rupp; Utah State University, Logan, Utah

CropCamThe CropCam is a UAV that flies unassisted to predefined areas within a field and uses a high resolution camera to take photos of those areas from the air.

CropCam Specifications:

  • Four-foot long Glider with an 8-foot wingspan
  • Cruising speed of 35 mph; top speed of 60 mph
  • Up to 60 minutes of flight time – enough for 640 acres at high resolution
  • Typical altitude between 300-2000 feet (license needed over 400 feet)
  • Range of up to 1 mile line of sight
  • Cost of $9000 ($13,000 with software and plane)

Applications:

  • Agriculture / Ranching
  • Forestry / Natural Resources
  • Real Estate / City Planning
  • Emergency Services / Insurance

BlueCreek areal imagery from CropCam

Image 1 (top left) is an aerial image of the Utah State University Blue Creek Experiment Station, taken on July 7, 2008, using the CropCam at 2.5 cm resolution. Image 2 (top center) is a small grain trial at the Utah State University Blue Creek Experiment Station, taken on July 7, 2008, using the CropCam at 2.5 cm resolution. Individual plots can easily be seen in this image.

Bare soil imagery easily shows residue (top right). Several images can be combined into a mosaic to show residue of entire field.

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