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Water sensing with cosmic rays

AgricolturaAgricultureIPA21neutron probesamplingsoil moisture


This patented device and method can provide real time data of the moisture content of soil, vegetation and snow covered surfaces over large areas. Compared to devices currently on the market (electromagnetic sensors, remote sensing, ambient neutron sensors) it is more reliable, efficient and cost effective.

Technical features

There are limits to current systems for the measurement of soil moisture content: they are not optimized for continuous use in agriculture or for monitoring over larger scales. This patented invention measures the flux of ambient neutrons deriving from cosmic rays: there is in fact a correlation between the flow of neutrons and the average moisture content in soil, vegetation and snow covered surfaces. This patented method and device can gather simultaneous data from a few hectares of surface and up to 60cm in depth. The neutron probe used is much less expensive than those currently on the market. The real time data acquisition will be especially useful in agriculture, to program precision irrigation, and for climatological studies concerning snow covered surfaces and hydrogeological characteristics of any terrain.

Possible Applications

  • Hydrogeological and climatological data analysis;
  • Glacial and snow data analysis;
  • Climate monitoring;
  • Precision irrigation.


  • Soil moisture content measurement over hectares;
  • Moisture content assessment up to 60 cm in depth;
  • Fast evaluation;
  • Minor production costs compared to current neutron probes;
  • Not affected by terrain textures;
  • Non-invasive, sensors remain out of the ground.