NUWA: NUclear technologies for WAter management

European Call(s)

LC-SFS-19-2018-2019 Topic A RIA (Climate-smart resilient farming)

SFS-30-2018-2019-220 Topic B RIA (Agri-Aqua Labs)

DT-RUR-12-2018 Item 1 (ICT Innovation for agriculture - Digital Innovation Hubs for Agriculture)

Name of the organisation

Department of Physics and Astronomy “Galileo Galilei”, University of Padova

Description of the organisation

The university of Padova is among the oldest universities in the world (funded in 1222). It counts more than 60 thousands students, subdivided in 8 schools. The department of Physics and Astronomy is one of the biggest departments in the university. It collaborates both with other national and international research institutes.

Main areas of expertise

We are Research group from the University of Padova (Italy). Our area of research is the technological application of nuclear physics techniques. Our expertise is on the development of nuclear detectors, data analysis, nuclear physics modelling and data acquisition systems. In our previous projects we successfully developed TRL-6 systems for nuclear safety, civil security and environmental monitoring. Furthermore, we have been coordinators of work packages in several European Projects and principal investigators in national and European Projects. A key characteristic of our projects was the presence of end-users in order to develop comprehensive solutions to adapt the technology to their needs.

Contact Person

Cristiano Lino Fontana

Looking for: Partner(s) - Coordinator

We are looking for principal investigators or partner groups where we can join as technology providers. The University of Padova, though, is a big institution hosting many research groups with a variety of expertises that can become partners. Moreover the university administration can support us in the coordination effort of a project, in the case of becoming coordinator.


Austria - Belgium - Bulgaria - Croatia - Republic of Cyprus - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - Greece - Hungary - Ireland - Italy - Latvia - Lithuania - Luxembourg - Malta - Netherlands - Poland - Portugal - Romania - Slovakia - Slovenia - Spain - Sweden - UK - Iceland - Liechtenstein - Norway

Main Objectives:

We propose a technology to measure the moisture content of soil, that is of great importance for precision irrigation and crop monitoring. Our solution is able to monitor large areas (of the order of a hundred of hectares) with a single self sufficient probe. We can give a quantitative measure of the moisture content up to a depth of 50 cm. The technology employs passive nuclear detectors to monitor the natural background radiation produced by cosmic rays. The probe has been assessed in laboratory conditions.

Our aim is to integrate several technologies to address the problem from a variety of aspects, e.g. soil moisture measurements, weather forecasting, water consumption monitoring and economical analysis. We want to propose a comprehensive solution for water resources monitoring, in order to increase the efficiency of water management. We want to develop a cost-effective solution for our end-users, e.g. farmers associations, local water management organization, and public administration.


Our technology has been tested in a laboratory environment. Field tests allow to asses the climatic stability of the system, the mechanical design and the communications. Systematic and random effects in the measurements may arise, due to the environmental conditions. Other challenges may be encountered during the integration phase with other technologies, such as different communication protocols. The produced technology should be ready to be deployed in a real setting, therefore we will exploit our experience with the production of industrial-level prototypes. End-users should be the key of the project, as their feedback will give the guidelines for the developers. When heterogenous groups work together a main issue is the effectiveness of communication among peers. We will study and prepare a common framework together with detailed protocols to converge the end-user needs and the technological requirements. From the technological point of view, when different technologies are integrated it is of utmost importance to define and implement a coherent and common structure. Each technology provides data with peculiar meanings, that need to be evaluated in order to combine them with the rest.

Previous EU experience:

Our group developed its expertise working in projects dedicated to the civil security: DIAMINE (FP5), EURITRACK (FP5), ERITR@C (FP6), MODES_SNM, TAWARA_RTM (FP7) and C-BORD (H2020). We were coordinators of the MODES_SNM and TAWARA_RTM projects. TAWARA developed a detector of radioactive contaminants in tap water. We are Work Package leader for the C-BORD project, that is developing a comprehensive framework of different technologies for the Non-Intrusive Inspection of commercial cargoes.