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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


COETZEE, Petrus J.. A technique to determine the electromagnetic properties of soil using moisture content. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2014, vol.110, n.5-6, pp.01-04. ISSN 1996-7489.

Accurate electromagnetic ground constants are required for applications such as modelling of ground wave propagation of radio signals and antennas above a real, imperfect earth and for use in geological surveys and agricultural applications. A simple method to determine the ground parameters (conductivity and relative dielectric constant) for any radio frequency is outlined here. The method has been verified over the 2-30-MHz frequency range but should be applicable up to several GHz. First, a low cost, commercial soil moisture meter using time domain reflectometry techniques is used to determine the soil moisture percentage. Then previously published universal soil models implemented on a programmable calculator or a PC are used to calculate the required constants at the frequency of interest according to the measured moisture percentage. The results obtained by this method compare favourably with those obtained by the input impedance of a low horizontal dipole technique. The received signal strength of a ground wave, HF transmission also compares favourably with that predicted by GRWave using ground constants calculated by the soil moisture technique. This method offers significant advantages in terms of simplicity, speed and cost when compared with current techniques.

Keywords : electromagnetic properties; soil moisture; time domain reflectometry; ground constants.

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