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Soil Sensors - Theory and Application


Department of Agroecology arrange a PhD course in "Soil Sensors - Theory and Application" from 15 - 21 May 2017. 5 ECTS

The course takes place at Aarhus University Campus Foulum, Blichers Allé 20, DK-8830 Tjele (meeting room 2).

Target group: PhD students within agronomy, environmental engineering or biology.­

Objectives and course content

Digital soil sensors were first developed and applied in projects related to precision agriculture (PA). Soil and crop properties vary in space and time and the development of mobile sensors with mapping capabilities was a prerequisite for the development of PA technologies because traditional sampling techniques were both too slow and costly. Sensor development has continued after the early days of PA research and a range of new soil sensors for mobile use is available today. The course will focus on the theory behind and the application of different types of mobile soil sensors to digital soil mapping.

The course is organised as 1) formal lectures introducing measurement principles, instrument configuration and applications, GIS, sensor fusion and sampling design, 2) exercises based on quality datasets available from research projects, 3) more informal lectures introducing imaginative applications and surprise topics, and 4) hands on field and laboratory measurements using the following sensors: Visible and near infrared spectroscopy (Vis-NIR), Time domain reflectometry (TDR), Electromagnetic induction (EMI), Natural gamma (NG). The above sensors are all in use at the University of Aarhus.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student should be able to:

  • Understand the principles of sensory measurements using:
    • Visible and near infrared spectroscopy, Vis-NIR, mapping of soil texture etc.
    • Time domain reflectometry, TDR, mapping of soil water content and electrical conductivity
    • Electromagnetic induction, EMI, mapping of soil electrical conductivity
    • Natural gamma, NG, mapping of soil clay content
  • Do field and laboratory measurements using above mentioned sensors
  • As well as to analyse the obtained sensory data­




Practical information

Housing during the course week:

The course week will consist of very long and intensive days, so if you don’t already live in Viborg or Foulum, we recommend you to book accommodation in Viborg.

It is your own responsibility to arrange accommodation. We recommend that you book a room close to the city center.


Transport to and from Foulum:

It is your own responsibility to come to Foulum in the morning Monday – Friday. From Viborg you can take regional bus #62 (leaving central bus station 07:38) or bus #750 (leaving central bus station 07:40).

 We arrange common transport back to Viborg in the evening of each course day. Saturday 20th May and Sunday 21st May we also arrange common transport from Viborg to Foulum in the morning and back to Viborg in the evening.



  • We provide you with coffee/the, fruit and cake during each course day.
  • Lunch is on your own. You can bring your own lunch or buy in Foulum canteen. During the weekend of 20 and 21 May we provide you with lunch though.
  • Dinner is included (Monday 15th May - Saturday 20th May).

How to find your way to Viborg


The railway station is located in the center of Viborg. If you plan to come by train, maybe this link can help you www.rejseplanen.dk (English version available). 

If you fly into Copenhagen Airport, you can take the train to Viborg (app. 4.5 hours trip).


The nearest airport is Karup Airport. Karup Airport is not an international airport, but there is daily connections to Copenhagen. The airport is serviced by Danish Air Transport and you can see daily connections on their homepage: www.dat.dk

The cheapest way of transport from Karup Airport to Viborg is the TELETAXA. You need to book a seat in the TELETAXA beforehand. You can call the company at least one day before arrival (phone: +45 87 40 83 00 - press '3'). The price one way is app. 40 DKK and must be paid to the driver (only cash and Danish currency is accepted). You can also e-mail Jytte Christensen (mailto: Jytte.Christensen@agro.au.dk) and ask her to book a seat for you. 

Using AALBORG AIRPORT, AARHUS AIRPORT or BILLUND AIRPORT is also a possibility, but it can be a bit more complicated to come to Viborg by public transport from these airports. 

AARHUS AIRPORT to Viborg: The best option is to take the airport bus to Aarhus C and then take a train to Viborg (travel time from Aarhus to Viborg by train app. 75 minutes). 

AALBORG AIRPORT to Viborg: If you arrive at Aalborg Airport you can take the airport bus to Aalborg Bus Terminal. From Aalborg Bus Terminal you can take either route no. 960X or 980X to Viborg.   

COPENHAGEN AIRPORT: If you fly into Copenhagen Airport, you can take the train to Viborg (app. 4.5 hours trip).

Pre-registration is open.

We will get back to you during April with more information.

Teaching methods

The course will last seven days. Each day will begin with a lecture session. The second half of the day will involve hands-on modelling and measurement activities.



Course assessment

Individual student evaluation (passed/not passed) will be based on contribution to class discussions, group work, presentations of results and a short individual report covering a selected topic included in group work.



Course responsible

If you have any questions to the scientific part of the course, please contact senior scientist Mogens H. Greve.

If you have any question in relation to practical matters, you are welcome to contact Jytte Christensen.