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Enlightening Research

Soil Science

Quick Estimation of Salinity in Field Soils and Irrigation Water with LandMapper ERM-02

ec mapping with Landmapper on dead rice field after hurracaine IkeSoil salinity is routinely evaluated in the labs from electrical conductivity of liquid soil saturation extract (ECe). The resulted total salinity is reported either directly in conductivity units (dS/m) or converted to TDS (total dissolved solids) concentration in ppm (parts per million) using formula: 1 dS/m = 1 mS/cm = 1 mmho/cm = 640 ppm = 640 mg/L= 0.64 g/L=0.064%

But now EC of soil and waters can be measured directly in the field using highly accurate method of four-electrode probe and Landmapper ERM-02 measuring device. Best of all, probes can be build to sense different soil layers down to 30 ft! Probes are simple and inexpensive to make from common materials available at any hardware store.

For irrigation water and soil solutions: To measure ECw just put 4-electrode probe of Landmapper used for mapping into a ditch, canal, or other water source. Make sure that all 4-electrodes are in contact with water. Take a reading in EC (conductivity) mode. Display will read (example):  
K0*C= 150m  - which indicates milli Siemens (mS/m)
To convert to dS/m, divide display number by 100, i.e. 150 mS/m=1.5 dS/m.

Vertical Electrical Sounding to detect peat deposit thickness and drying depth

VES to detect peat deposit depthThe valley landscapes of humid areas are dominated with peat soils of various origins, which become the most productive soils after the proper drainage and cultivation. The high fertility and proximity to water make peat soils the most desirable for vegetable production. However, these soils are also subject to quick degradation during agricultural usage. Excess drainage increases the unproductive decomposition and mineralization of peat and can cause spontaneous ignition of peat soils, whereas little or no drainage can be non-sufficient for normal agricultural practices. Therefore, drainage design and the following agriculture practice on peat soils should be based on careful studies of the peat soil genesis and hydrology of the areas.

 Method VES is suitable for detection the resistivity in different soil and geological strata without digging or boring. Usually, peat shows not much difference in electrical properties along the profile. Water content of cultivated peat soils is close to the field capacity during the whole growing season.

Soil Science

Applications of electrical geophysical methods in classic Soil Science (Pedology, Soil Genesis and Classification) - browse the links and maps on this page to find out more...

1D Vertical Electrical Sounding (VES) with LandMapper Procedure

standard big manual VES cable set by LandviserThe technique and procedure described here can be performed with LandMapper ERM-01 or ERM-02 (set in resistivity mode). The electrode spacings provided in this example are identical to Landviser's supplied "big manual VES" cable set made to measure 16 layers of topsoil down to approximately 9 m. The worksheet for pre-set electrode spacings in such cable re-calculating measured resistivities to 1D VES profile can be downloaded as Manual 1D VES workbook (MS Excel format).

Other electrode spacings are possible for custom-made cable arrays to reach deeper profiles. For example, we developed and tested with LandMapper a 60m-long cable, measuring down to ~ 20 m for one custom hydrology project

This manual VES technique is most convenient to use with three people. Follow step-by-step instructions below. If you need further help, do not hesitate to contact Landviser, LLC @ +1-609-412-0555 or Register on our site and download 7 related publications and software!


San Antonio 29° 25' 26.8392" N, 98° 29' 37.0608" W
Dmitrov 56° 20' 39.0192" N, 37° 31' 2.5716" E

Vertical Electrical Sounding to Detect Groundwater Levels in Arid Areas

hydrology of delta Volga, RussiaWater and salt content distributions within the soil profile are the main properties causing considerable variations in electrical resistivity. In arid areas, the water content and salt distributions are determined mainly  by the saline groundwater, rather then by precipitation. 


The soil profile is divided into a top unsaturated layer with high resistivity and a bottom layer saturated by saline groundwater with low resistivity. Considering large differences in electrical resistivity between the unsaturated and saturated zones, the VES method was applied to detect the saline groundwater level. 


Gandurino, AST 45° 50' 56.4" N, 48° 0' 23.04" E

Vertical Electrical Sounding to Detect Soil Salinity in Arid Areas

total soil salinity vs resistivity by VESWater and salt content distributions within the soil profile are the main properties causing considerable variations in electrical resistivity or conductivity.  Since the evaporation in the arid areas (Astrakhan, Russia) is about five times higher than the precipitation, the water content and salt distributions are determined mainly by the saline groundwater.

The differentiation of salinity in the unsaturated zone of the soil profiles was revealed by small fluctuations of electrical resistivity in upper part of the VES profiles. We thoroughly interpreted the VES results to estimate the layers with different electrical conductivities (EC) for 12 soil profiles. The total salt content was measured in soil samples collected from the layers of the profiles as shown in Table (columns 1 and 2) for one example profile. 

Evaluation of stone contents in soils with electrical geophysical methods to aid orchard planning

VES of stony soils in Crimea

Establishments of orchards and vineyards are long-term and money-intensive, but highly pay-off projects. This study allowed developing procedure for incorporating geophysical survey data into recommendations of usage skeletal soils under orchards. Geophysical methods of electrical resistivity, such as VES and four-electrode profiling provided the information about spatial distributions of stones in skeletal soils.  The resistivity of rocks or stones is much higher (about 104-1012 ohm m) than the resistivity of soil horizons with any texture. Therefore, high resistivity will indicate the presence of stones in soil profiles.

Study was conducted on skeletal soils (Paleoxerolls and Lithic Xerorthents) formed on carbonate-cemented marine deposit, limestone, or pebbles of alluvial origin in western part of Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine. The stone content varied from 2 to 90% of fragments coarse than 2 mm by volume and stony layers occurred in soil profiles at the depth as shallow as 12 cm.



Applications of LandMapper handheld for near-surface soil surveys and beyond

LandMapper - fast, portable, versatile, affordableOn-the-go sensors, designed to measure soil electrical resistivity (ER) or electrical conductivity (EC) are vital for faster non-destructive soil mapping in precision agriculture, civil and environmental engineering, archaeology and other near-surface applications. Compared with electromagnetic methods and ground penetrating radar, methods of EC/ER measured with direct current and four-electrode probe have fewer limitations and were successfully applied on clayish and saline soils as well as on highly resistive stony and sandy soils. However, commercially available contact devices, which utilize a four-electrode principle, are bulky, very expensive, and can be used only on fallow fields. Multi-electrode ER-imaging systems applied in deep geophysical explorations are heavy, cumbersome and their use is usually cost-prohibited in many near-surface applications, such as forestry, archaeology, environmental site assessment and cleanup, and in agricultural surveys on farms growing perennial horticultural crops, vegetables, or turf-grass. In such applications there is a need for accurate, portable, low-cost device to quickly check resistivity of the ground on-a-spot, especially on the sites non-accessible with heavy machinery.

Four-electrode principle of EC/ER measurements

Our equipment utilizes well-known four-electrode principle to measure electrical resistivity or conductivity (Fig).


Jonesboro, AR 35° 50' 32.2692" N, 90° 42' 15.4044" W
Krasnoyarsk 56° 0' 38.8404" N, 92° 51' 9.99" E


Self-potential map to detect directions of water fluxes, KievThe self-potential (SP) method was used by Fox as early as 1830 on sulphide veins in a Cornish mine, but the systematic use of the SP and electrical resistivity methods in conventional geophysics dates from about 1920 (Parasnis, 1997). The SP method is based on measuring the natural potential differences, which generally exist between any two points on the ground. These potentials are associated with electrical currents in the soil. Large potentials are generally observed over sulphide and graphite ore bodies, graphitic shale, magnetite, galena, and other electronically highly conducting minerals (usually negative). However, SP anomalies are greatly affected by local geological and topographical conditions. These effects are considered in exploration geophysics as “noise”. The electrical potential anomalies over the highly conducting rock are usually overcome these environmental “noise”, thus, the natural electrical potentials existing in soils are usually not considered in conventional geophysics.

LandMapper ERM-02, equipped with proper non-polarizing electrodes, can be used to measure such “noise” electrical potentials created in soils due to soil-forming process and water/ion movements. The electrical potentials in soils, clays, marls, and other water-saturated and unsaturated sediments can be explained by such phenomena as ionic layers, electro-filtration, pH differences, and electro-osmosis.

Another possible environmental and engineering application of self-potential method is to study subsurface water movement. Measurements of electro-filtration potentials or streaming potentials have been used in USSR to detect water leakage spots on the submerged slopes of earth dams (Semenov, 1980). The application of self-potential method to outline water fluxes in shallow subsurface of urban soils is described in (Pozdnyakova et al., 2001). The detail description of self-potential method procedure is provided in LandMapper manual.

Another important application of LandMapper ERM-02 is measuring electrical potentials between soils and plants. Electrical balance between soil and plants is important for plant health and electrical potential gradient governs water and nutrient uptake by plants. Monitoring of electrical potentials in plants and soils is a cutting-edge research topic in the leading scientific centers around the world.


Zamboanga 7° 1' 27.3612" N, 122° 11' 20.0544" E
Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Kiev 50° 24' 59.1768" N, 30° 33' 55.836" E
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