Yesterday we scanned a 4.5 hectare piece of land at Overgaauw Wine Estate in Stellenbosch with an electromagnetic soil scanner. The scanner is owned by a dynamic new company called Revolute Systems.

The aim of such scans is to identify soil differences before we go through all the trouble of making a lot of profile holes on a grid formation and spending a lot of extra time and money in getting to know our soils. With these type of scans you can see the soil differences and plan your soil survey accordingly. Here is what Jacobus Els (Soil Scientist at Revolute Systems) had to say:

“The technology we use works by electromagnetic waves that measure soil variation underneath the surface, in short. Soil is able to conduct electricity, but how easily is dependent on the soil type. We expect soils that have finer texture, more water, more salts and higher organic fractions to conduct electricity better.

Our instrument creates an electromagnetic field that is sent into the soil, the three receivers on the other side of the instrument measures the electromagnetic field in the soil at different depths (25 cm, 50 cm and 90 cm). By dragging the instrument across the soil surface and logging each measurements GPS positions, we take over 1500 individual measurements per hectare. These measurements of the soil electrical conductivity can then be used to accurately pin point variation underneath the soil, without having to dig a single hole.

Jacobus with the electromagnetic scanner

Although this instrument is able to identify the precise position of where soils variation exists, it cannot identify the exact nature of the variation. This means that after a soil scan is complete, a soil survey is still needed, but can be done with more targeted and less number of profile holes.”

Here are some of the results from yesterday.

If you have basic GIS skills, these data sets can be used in any way you’d like, and representing it in Google Earth on a 3D level is always a cool way to look at it

From these images the soil variation is clearly visible, giving us guidance of where to dig our profile holes. Our next step will be a soil survey and this will be incorporated in our GIS database in order for us to make the right decision regarding drainage, soil chemical parameter correction, soil preparation and rootstock choice.

Once we have done this I will post an update. Feel free to contact me for more information.

Click here to view the video of how it looks when scanning the soil.



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