The SoilOptix® sensor is measuring gamma radiation. This is a form of penetrating radiation emitted through the natural decay of radioactive sources. For SoilOptix®, this source is the soil. Soil is at a constant state of decay and is consistently emitting gamma rays. Specifically, the sensor is reading these rays and measuring 4 isotopes; Thorium-232, Uranium-238, Potassium-40 and Caesium-138.
Soil samples are taken at specific locations in the field after completing the sensor survey. These locations are based on the radiation measured from the sensor. One soil sample must be taken for every 8 acres (3.2 hectares) surveyed. A minimum of 4 samples are needed per field. Sample depth should be between 6-8” (15-20 cm). Finally, at each sample location, the vehicle & sensor must sit and run continuously for 90 seconds. This is to calibrate the radiation.
The raw radiation data can be used for up to 8 years after the field has been surveyed. This is because the radiation that the sensor is capturing is extremely stable and repeatable. After the initial scan, the original sensor data can be used to “resample” in the following years.
For example, most growers follow a 2 or 3 year sampling program- typically following crop rotations. On year 2 or 3, providers can go back to the field and pull new samples from the original locations. Then, SoilOptix® will process these results with the original sensor survey data and provide growers with updated soil maps.
Therefore, growers can get multiple years worth of soil maps out of one SoilOptix® scan.
The technology of the sensor allows for units to travel up to 12mph (20 kph). Data is collected every 3-5’ (1-1.5 m), providing 335 data points in every acre (827 data points per hectare).
This is a very common question we get. And, the answer is simple: No!
The sensor is calibrated upon manufacturing and is completely field-ready when it’s delivered to you. Therefore, there’s no field to field calibration required- just a distinct name in the logging software for the field project.
SoilOptix® recommends between 40’ and 50’ (12-15 metres). For small acre fields, smaller swath widths are recommended. This allows for higher definition soil maps.
SoilOptix® can provide over 25 different data layers, based on the soil sample lab results.
This includes macro and micro nutrients, base saturations, textures, and complex models (e.g. bulk density, hydraulic conductivity, plant available water).
A full list of available layers can be found below.
However, we are always researching and testing new layers to offer. If there are other layers you would like to see modeled, contact us and we can investigate the possibility.
To begin, surveying should not be done in the rain or over standing water. Because, radon emitted from these sources can affect the radiation readings. However, soil moisture has no effect on the sensor. This allows for surveying to be completed in up to 4” (10 cm) of light snow. Additionally, ground cover of any sort does not affect the sensor. This is because the sensor is specifically measuring radiation caused by the decay of soil.
Because of these factors, there is a much larger window of opportunity to get into the field and extending your soil sampling season.
The sensor can be mounted on any vehicle that can travel across difficult landscapes (e.g. Jeeps, trucks or side-by-side RTVs). Next, the sensor must be mounted 2 ft (0.6 m) off the ground. Typically, customers use a standard 2 inch (5 cm) hitch receiver. Additionally, vehicles should be able to travel at 12mph (20 kph) consistently.
Examples of mounting systems can be seen below. Schematics are available by request. Please contact us if you are interested.
Please note- interference below the sensor from the metal bracket should be avoided. Because, this can mask the radiation being measured from the ground.
Cation Exchange Capacity Sand
Organic Matter Silt
Calcium Base Saturation Calcium
Calcium-Magnesium Ratio Magnesium
Magnesium Base Saturation
Potassium Base Saturation Nitrate as N
Bulk Density Leakability
Plant Available Water Elevation
SoilOptix® delivers a higher level of customization than any system available before. Our data is Variable Rate Application-ready for seed, fertilizer and other nutrient applications. These maps are tailored to the specific soil conditions across the planting area, with unprecedented accuracy.
With SoilOptix®, you get more data points, more definition and more detailed soil maps than any other system in the world at an affordable cost. The SoilOptix® system has been successfully proven by agronomists & ag retailers in Canada. As a result, it’s now being used in 11 countries around the world.
SoilOptix® measures and maps all common nutrient properties (e.g. pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium), along with various soil textures (e.g. % clay, % sand, % silt). Plus, we can measure complex models like plant available water, and bulk density.