Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Intelligent soil sampling saves time and money

25.07.2006
A new computer program which can sample soil quickly and effectively could revolutionise land management by making the sampling process more cost effective and ensuring more sustainable use of our soils.

Soil is a complex and irreplaceable natural resource which varies hugely locally and nationally. While farmers sample their soil to learn about its nutrient levels to help manage their land, soil quality must also be monitored at national or regional scale. With growing populations and stricter legislation, such environmental surveys are becoming increasingly important to ensure sustainable land management, but current sampling methods can be time consuming, costly and produce insufficient results.

However, the new ‘intelligent computer program’ looks set to change this by enabling soil sampling to be tailored to local conditions, allowing land managers to obtain high quality information without over or under sampling.

The program has been designed by researchers at Rothamsted Research, with funding from a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Industrial Partnership Award with the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

Dr Murray Lark, head of the Environmetics group which developed the software, explained: “Our program learns about the variation of the soil as it samples, and is therefore able to generate a sampling scheme that is tailored to local conditions and ensures that the sampling effort is used to greatest effect. Our program rapidly identifies where variation in the soil is complex and many samples are needed or where less sampling is needed because there are large patches of contrasting soil, so samples can be further apart.”

The underlying concept behind the program is the variogram – a mathematical model of how soil varies across an area. As sampling begins, the computer program is ignorant of the variogram and uses data from the sampling to reduce the level of uncertainty and to direct where subsequent samples should be taken. As data accumulate, this uncertainty is reduced.

Once the program has a sufficiently robust model of the spatial variation within the area, a final phase of sampling points is identified to ensure that the resulting map of the soil will be sufficiently precise.

Both computer simulations and practical trials have shown that this adaptive sampling scheme can converge from no initial knowledge to a reliable map of how soil varies. When tested on real landscapes, the scheme has reduced the number of sampling sites needed without any loss of accuracy.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: “This new program is a real breakthrough in modern land management and highlights the important role of a multidisciplinary systems approach to bioscience. By combining theory, computer modelling and experiments, scientists are producing useful and easier to apply outputs, such as this soil sampling program, which will ultimately benefit the wider public.”

Matt Goode | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>