The SoilOptix® sensor is measuring gamma radiation; a form of penetrating electromagnetic radiation emitted through the natural decay of a radioactive source. In the case of SoilOptix®, this source is the soil. It is consistently decaying and emitting gamma rays which are detected by the sensor. There are four different types of stable isotopes that are measured; Thorium-232, Uranium-238, Potassium-40 and Caesium-138.
Do you still need to take soil samples?
Upon completing the survey of the field, soil samples are taken in distinct locations in the field based on the radiation gathered from the sensor. For every 8 acres sampled in a field, one soil sample must be taken, with a minimum of 4 samples needed. Depending on topsoil depth, samples should be taken between 6-10”. At each sample location the vehicle and sensor must sit and run continuously for 90 seconds to calibrate the radiation at location.
How often do you survey the field with the sensor?
Once a field has been surveyed, the raw radiation data can be used for up to 8 years. After an initial scan and sampling, soil samples can be extracted from the same spot at different time intervals and new models and maps can be generated.
How fast can I drive?
The technology of the sensor allows for units to travel up to 12mph in 40’ swath widths. Data, at this speed, is collected every 3-5’, providing 335 data points in every acre.
Are there any calibrations to be done from field to field?
No, the sensor is calibrated upon manufacturing and field ready once delivered to you. There is no field to field calibration required, just a distinct name in the logging software for the field project.
What is the suggested swath width?
SoilOptix® recommends between 40’ and 50’. For small acre fields, smaller swath widths are recommended, allowing higher definition soil maps to be provided.
What data layers can SoilOptix® provide?
Based on the soil lab report you send in, SoilOptix® can provide over 30 different data layers including macro and micro nutrients, base saturations, textures, and complex models (e.g. bulk density, hydraulic conductivity, plant available water).
How does soil moisture and ground cover affect readings?
Surveying in the rain and over standing water should not be done as radon emitted from these sources can affect the radiation readings. Soil moisture has no effect on the sensor, allowing for surveying to be completed in up to 4” of light snow. Ground cover of any sort does not affect the sensor, as it is specifically measuring radiation caused by the decay of soil.
What can I mount the SoilOptix® sensor on?
The sensor can be mounted on any vehicle which can travel across difficult landscapes (e.g. Jeeps, trucks or side-by-side RTVs). Vehicles should be able to travel at 12mph consistently. Mounting examples can be seen below and further dimensions and information can be obtained through SoilOptix®. Interference below the sensor from the bracket should be avoided as this can mask the radiation being measured from the ground.