Ground penetrating radar for underground sensing in agriculture: a review

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Abstract

Belowground properties strongly affect agricultural productivity. Traditional methods for quantifying belowground properties are destructive, labor-intensive and pointbased. Ground penetrating radar can provide non-invasive, areal, and repeatable underground measurements. This article reviews the application of ground penetrating radar for soil and root measurements and discusses potential approaches to overcome challenges facing ground penetrating radar-based sensing in agriculture, especially for soil physical characteristics and crop root measurements. Though advanced data-analysis has been developed for ground penetrating radar-based sensing of soil moisture and soil clay content in civil engineering and geosciences, it has not been used widely in agricultural research. Also, past studies using ground penetrating radar in root research have been focused mainly on coarse root measurement. Currently, it is difficult to measure individual crop roots directly using ground penetrating radar, but it is possible to sense root cohorts within a soil volume grid as a functional constituent modifying bulk soil dielectric permittivity. Alternatively, ground penetrating radarbased sensing of soil water content, soil nutrition and texture can be utilized to inversely estimate root development by coupling soil water flow modeling with the seasonality of plant root growth patterns. Further benefits of ground penetrating radar applications in agriculture rely on the knowledge, discovery, and integration among differing disciplines adapted to research in agricultural management.

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