Agricultural Research Division of IANR


Date of this Version



2016 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.


Privette III, C.V., Khalilian, A., Bridges, W., Katzberg, S., Torres, O., Han, Y.J., Maja, J.M. and Qiao, X. (2016) Relationship of Soil Moisture and Reflected GPS Signal Strength. Advances in Remote Sensing, 5, 18-27.


Many agricultural fields across the country have a high degree of variability in soil type and water holding capacity that affects irrigation management. One way to overcome problems associated with the field variability for improving irrigation management is to utilize a site-specific irrigation system. This system applies water to match the needs of individual management zones within a field. A real-time continuous soil moisture measurement is essential for the success of site-specific irrigation systems. Recently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed sensor technology that records the global positioning system (GPS) signal reflected from the surface of Earth, which estimates the dielectric properties of soil and can be used to estimate soil moisture contents. The overall objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of utilizing GPS-based technology developed by NASA for soil moisture measurements and to determine the influence of soil type, soil compaction, and ground cover on the measurements. The results showed strong positive correlations between soil moisture and reflected signals. Other factors (soil compaction and soil type), were not significantly related to reflectivity and did not significantly change the relationship between reflectivity and soil moisture contents. In addition, ground cover (rye crop) did not significantly reduce reflectivity. Therefore, this system could be used as a real-time and continuous nonintrusive soil moisture sensor for site-specific irrigation scheduling and watershed management.