Researchers have developed a quick and inexpensive method for measuring soil density. Determining the weight of a soil sample is simple enough with a scale, but determining the volume can be messy, expensive, and time-consuming. A team of researchers at New Mexico State University discovered a simpler way to measure soil density that is detailed in a paper published in Soil Science Society of America Journal.
The process involves a typical smart phone and a small device created using a 3D printer. The team produced a small turntable with a mount to hold a smart phone in place. The phone captures high-resolution images while the platform with the sample is spun around using a hand crank. The pictures are then input into a program that will piece them together to create a 3D image of the soil sample, providing volume measurement.
Upon testing the method against the standards for measuring soil density, the team achieved nearly identical results with accuracy shown across multiple soil types. The method that the team developed takes as little as 15 minutes to analyze a soil sample, with some additional downtime caused by the computer analysis of the images.
Listen to the radio report below.