Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Coleen Carranza

Date: 25 January 2021
Time: 13:30 - 15:00
Location: Auditorium, Wageningen

Dissertation title: 

Investigating soil moisture dynamics for improved applications of radar satellites in agricultural water management

Group: Soil physics and Land Management, Wageningen University
Promotor: prof. dr CJ Ritsema
Co-promotor: dr ir MJ van der Ploeg


Radar satellites such as Sentinel-1's sensitivity to surface soil moisture may be further utilized in for agricultural water management. This requires investigating surface and subsurface soil moisture dynamics, since the latter is needed in most agricultural applications. Results on this thesis demonstrate that surface soil moisture from Sentinel-1 can be directly related with measures of soil strength to gain estimates of field trafficability essential for tillage. During droughts, the vegetation backscatter, currently underexplored for soil moisture estimation compared to soil backscatter, may potentially provide root zone soil moisture information to determine the amount of water still available for crops. Sentinel-1 can be integrated within data-driven methods such as machine learning techniques for root zone soil moisture estimation without assumptions on system dynamics, unlike process-based models. This can be beneficial for cases when the primary goal is only the estimation of soil moisture states and when accurate soil hydraulic parameters are missing. To conclude, insights gained on the on spatio-temporal dynamics in agricultural fields resulted in new and efficient methodologies supporting agricultural water management to be explored and developed.

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