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Soil sensors - Theory and Application (2017)

ECTS credits: 5


Course parameters:
Language: English
Level of course: PhD
Semester/quarter: Q4 2017
Hours per week: 125 hours
Capacity limits: 25


Objectives of the course:
Digital soil sensors were first developed and applied in projects related to precision agriculture (PA). Soil and crop properties vary in space and time and the development of mobile sensors with mapping capabilities was a prerequisite for the development of PA technologies because traditional sampling techniques were both too slow and costly. Sensor development has continued after the early days of PA research and a range of new soil sensors for mobile use is available today. The course will focus on the theory behind and the application of different types of mobile soil sensors to digital soil mapping.


Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course the student should be able to:

  • Understand the principles of sensory measurements using:
    • Visible and near infrared spectroscopy, Vis-NIR, mapping of soil texture etc.
    • Time domain reflectometry, TDR, mapping of soil water content and electrical conductivity
    • Electromagnetic induction,  EMI, mapping of soil electrical conductivity
  • Natural gamma, NG, mapping of soil clay content
  • Do field and laboratory measurements using above mentioned sensors
  • As well as to analyse the obtained sensory data

Compulsory programme:
Lectures, exercises, field and laboratory measurements. Exercises, field and laboratory measurements will be based on group work.


Course contents:
The course is organised as 1) formal lectures introducing measurement principles, instrument configuration and applications, GIS, sensor fusion and sampling design 2) exercises based on quality datasets available from research projects, 3) more informal lectures introducing imaginative applications and surprise topics, and 4) hands on field and laboratory measurements using the following sensors: Visible and near infrared spectroscopy (Vis-NIR), Time domain reflectometry (TDR), Electromagnetic induction (EMI), Natural gamma (NG). The above sensors are all in use at the University of Aarhus.


Ph.D. students within agronomy, environmental  engineering or  biology


Name of lecturers:
To be updated


Type of course/teaching methods:
The course will last seven days. Each day will begin with a lecture session. The second half of the day will involve hands-on modelling and measurement activities.


Obligatory reading before start of course approx. 300 pages. Material to be distributed to participants after signup.


Course homepage:       


Course assessment:
Individual student evaluation (passed/not passed) will be based on contribution to class discussions, group work, presentations of results and a short individual report covering a selected topic included in group work.


Dept. of Agroecology, Aarhus University


Special comments on this course:
Course fee – will be announced later.


15 - 21 May 2017


Dept. of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Campus Foulum


Deadline for registration is Thursday, 1 May 2017. Use this link for registration.

If you have any questions, please contact Mogens Humlekrog Greve, e-mail:

Comments on content: 
Revised 16.05.2017