Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019ND208B

Using UAV and thermal imaging to determine soil moisture in Red River Valley

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-31 End Date: 2020-05-30
Total Federal Funds: $5,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $11,000

Principal Investigators: Xinhua Jia

Abstract: Soil moisture is the water stored in the soil. Knowing the soil moisture conditions in a timely matter will be extremely beneficial to farmers, because based on the moisture conditions, farmers can make quick decisions on planting time, crop types, crop varieties, fertilizer types and amounts, equipment operation, and water management strategies. To obtain a timely soil moisture map at a field scale, a UAV will be the best tool. In-situ measurement by soil moisture sensors or soil sampling is too scarce. Remote sensing estimate covers large areas, but its measurement is too coarse with less frequency. In this project, we will measure the soil moisture contents for a 55-ha tile drained testing field, located 32 km from NDSU campus in the MN side of the Red River Valley (RRV). We will determine the soil moisture status using thermal and/or near infrared cameras with UAVs during no crop or short crop periods in late fall or early spring. The estimated soil moisture values will be compared and validated with soil moisture contents measured in the field during the flight time. The results can be extended to other farm fields in the RRV and benefit more people.