Monitoring soil moisture dynamics via ground-penetrating radar survey of agriculture fields after irrigation

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Gabriel Muro, California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA, United States
It is possible to examine the quality of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) as a measure of soil moisture content in the shallow vadose zone, where roots are most abundant and water conservation best management practices are critical in active agricultural fields. By analyzing temporal samplings of 100 Mhz reflection profiles and common-midpoint (CMP) soundings over a full growing season, the variability of vertical soil moisture distribution directly after irrigation events are characterized throughout the lifecycle of a production crop. Reflection profiles produce high-resolution travel time data and summed results of CMP sounding data provide sampling depth estimates for the weak, but coherent reflections amid strong point scatterers. The high ratio of clay in the soil limits the resolution of downward propagation of infiltrating moisture after irrigation; synthetic data analysis compared against soil moisture lysimeter logs throughout the profile allow identification of the discrete soil moisture content variation in the measured GPR data. The nature of short duration irrigation events, evapotranspiration, and drainage behavior in relation to root depths observed in the GPR temporal data allow further examination and comparison with the variable saturation model HYDRUS-1D. After retrieving soil hydraulic properties derived from laboratory measured soil samples and simplified assumptions about boundary conditions, the project aims to achieve good agreement between simulated and measured soil moisture profiles without the need for excessive model calibration for GPR-derived soil moisture estimates in an agricultural setting.