Sensing soil properties in the laboratory, in situ, and on-Line: A review

B. Kuang, H.S. Mahmood, Z. Quraishi, W.B. Hoogmoed, A.M. Mouazen, E. van Henten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


Since both the spatial and vertical heterogeneities in soil properties have an impact on crop growth and yield, accurate characterization of soil properties at high sampling resolution is a preliminary step in successful management of soil-water-plant system. Conventional soil sampling and analyses have shown mixed economical returns due to the high costs associated with labor-intensive sampling and analysis procedures, which might be accompanied with map uncertainties. Therefore, the conventional laboratory methods are being replaced or complemented with the analytical soil sensing techniques. The objective of this chapter is to review different soil sensing methods used to characterize key soil properties for management of soil-water-plant system. This will cover laboratory, in situ in the field, and on-line measurement methods. This review chapter is furnished with an overview of background information about a sensing concept, basic principle and brief theory, various factors affecting the output of the sensor, and justification of why specific soil properties can be related with its output. The literature review is succeeded with an integration and analysis of findings in view of application in the precision agriculture domain. Potentials and limitations of current sensor technology are discussed and compared with commonly used state-of-the-art laboratory techniques. As sensing is commonly addressed as a very technical discipline, the match between the information currently collected with sensors and those required for site-specific application of different inputs, and crop growth and development is discussed, highlighting the most accurate method to measure a soil property for a given application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-223
JournalAdvances in Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • ground-penetrating radar
  • infrared reflectance spectroscopy
  • time-domain reflectometry
  • ion-selective electrodes
  • apparent electrical-conductivity
  • partial least-squares
  • gamma-ray spectrometry
  • complex dielectric permittivity
  • plant-available potassium


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