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Calibration and Validation of the Cosmic Ray Neutron Rover for Soil Water Mapping within Two South African Land Classes

Sciprofile linkThigesh Vather, Sciprofile linkColin Everson, Sciprofile linkTrenton E. Franz
Published: 5 August 2019
 by  MDPI
Hydrology , Volume 6; doi:10.3390/hydrology6030065

Abstract: Knowledge of soil water at a range of spatial scales would further our understanding of the dynamic variable and its influence on numerous hydrological applications. Cosmic ray neutron technology currently consists of the Cosmic Ray Neutron Sensor (CRNS) and the Cosmic Ray Neutron Rover (CRNR). The CRNR is an innovative tool to map surface soil water across the land surface. This research assessed the calibration and validation of the CRNR at two survey sites (hygrophilous grassland and pine forest) within the Vasi area with an area of 72 and 56 ha, respectively. The assessment of the calibrations showed that consistent calibration values (N0) were obtained for both survey sites. The hygrophilous grassland site had an average N0 value of 133.441 counts per minute (cpm) and an average error of 2.034 cpm. The pine site had an average N0 value of 132.668 cpm and an average error of 0.375 cpm between surveys. The validation of CRNR soil water estimates with interpolated hydro-sense soil water estimates showed that the CRNR can provide spatial estimates of soil water across the landscape. The hydro-sense and CRNR soil water estimates had a R2 of 0.439 at the hygrophilous grassland site and 0.793 at the pine site.
Keywords: Validation / calibration / spatial scale / soil water / pine forest / cosmic ray neutron technology / cosmic ray neutron rover / hygrophilous grassland

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