Neutron probes are devices that are used to measure the amount of water present within soil and is widely used across geologging and related industries. A neutron probe contains what is known as a pellet containing americium and beryllium. But why?
The alpha particles from the americium collide with those of the beryllium nuclei. Subsequently, it will detect the slow neutrons that allow the probe to gather the information that tells you how much hydrogen is present in the soil.
Neutron Probes are especially effective at achieving these results because:
- Soil moisture can be measured regardless of the physical state
- The probe can measure an accurate average of moisture level as it has a great depth
- Probes can be interfaced with the automatic downloading of stored data
- Moisture within the soil changes can be logged and measured to give accurate information
- Rapid changes of moisture level can be detected easily
- Measurements are able to be made and profiled in a non-destructive and reliable manner
Some of the drawbacks to be aware of
- Inadequate depth resolution may create a measurement of moisture content that little bit more difficult, especially in soils that are heavily layered.
- Moisture measurements can depend on the physical and chemical properties that can sometimes vary immeasurably.
- There is a level of care and attention when dealing with the neutron process that will minimise potential health risks, due to the dealing with probes that contain a radioactive source.
- The immediate moisture at the soil surface cannot be measured as it does not reach within the neutron probes sphere of influence, creating a potentially inaccurate result if not considered upon measurement.
The neutron probe is overall a very effective and efficient tool that can be sued to gain the results required when it comes to soil and data measurement. Consulting experts may be the best way forward should you be unsure on whether to proceed with this way of measuring.
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