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Terahertz Spectroscopy for Proximal Soil Sensing: An Approach to Particle Size Analysis (2017.0)

Dworak V., Mahns B., Selbeck J., Gebbers R., Weltzien C.

Sensors, 17 (10), 2387



Spatially resolved soil parameters are some of the most important pieces of information for precision agriculture. These parameters, especially the particle size distribution (texture), are costly to measure by conventional laboratory methods, and thus, in situ assessment has become the focus of a new discipline called proximal soil sensing. Terahertz (THz) radiation is a promising method for nondestructive in situ measurements. The THz frequency range from 258 gigahertz (GHz) to 350 GHz provides a good compromise between soil penetration and the interaction of the electromagnetic waves with soil compounds. In particular, soil physical parameters influence THz measurements. This paper presents investigations of the spectral transmission signals from samples of different particle size fractions relevant for soil characterization. The sample thickness ranged from 5 to 17 mm. The transmission of THz waves was affected by the main mineral particle fractions, sand, silt and clay. The resulting signal changes systematically according to particle sizes larger than half the wavelength. It can be concluded that THz spectroscopic measurements provide information about soil texture and penetrate samples with thicknesses in the cm range.

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