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UAV-borne radioelement mapping

Towards a guideline and verification methods for geophysical field measurements.
PhD ceremony:Mr S... (Steven) van der Veeke
When:January 16, 2023
Supervisor:dr. S. (Sytze) Brandenburg
Co-supervisor:dr. E.R. (Emiel) van der Graaf
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG
UAV-borne radioelement mapping

Title: Higher crop yield due to radioactivity in the soilRadioactive soils sound like something that can only be found around exploded nuclear power plants and places where nuclear bombs are detonated. Yet, every soil on earth is radioactive. Admittedly, most soils only contain a tiny amount of radioactivity. 

Clay soils, peat bogs and even your backyard contain trace amounts of radioactive potassium, uranium and thorium. The quantity and ratio between these radioactive substances are indicative for the soil type and can be used to derive other soil parameters. Among which is the soil fertility or the amount of minerals and moisture in the soil. This information can be used to maximize the crop yield because the farmer now knows where to irrigate and how the fertilizer should be spread across the field. 

This technique that uses the trace amount of radioactivity in the soil does not only have an agricultural application: it can also be used to restore nature reserves, determine the composition of dykes and can even be used to measure soil pollution at industrial sites.  

Until recently, these radioactivity measurements were done from the ground with large and heavy detectors. This research has developed a method to do these measurements from the air with a drone. Because of this, it is now possible to apply these measurements in areas without disturbing the ground and apply this technique in otherwise inaccessible areas.