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Using Cosmic-Ray Neutron Probes to Monitor Landscape Scale Soil Water Content in Mixed Land Use Agricultural Systems
With an ever-increasing demand for natural resources and the societal need to understand and predict natural disasters, soil water content (SWC) observations remain a critical variable to monitor in order to optimally allocate resources, establish early warning systems, and improve weather forecasts.However, routine agricultural production practices of soil cultivation, planting, and harvest make the operation and maintenance of direct contact point sensors for long-term monitoring challenging. In this work, we explore the use of the newly established Cosmic-Ray Neutron Probe (CRNP) and method to monitor landscape average SWC in a mixed agricultural land use system in northeast Austria. The calibrated CRNP landscape SWC values compare well against an independent in situ SWC probe network (MAE = 0.0286m3/m3/) given the challenge of continuous in situ monitoring from probes across a heterogeneous agricultural landscape. The ability of the CRNP to provide real-time and accurate landscape SWC measurements makes it an ideal method for establishing long-term monitoring sites in agricultural ecosystems to aid in agricultural water and nutrient management decisions at the small tract of land scale as well as aiding in management decisions at larger scales.
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