Tree radar analysis
Ground penetrating radar has been used for years to inspect things in the earth. Now it's also a diagnostic tool for trees. Look inside the trunk and roots without a single cut.
Radio interview source: Anthony Mucciardi, President, TreeRadar
If healthy trees in your grove seem to suddenly topple over, an inspection of those trees may show that they were actually hollow inside.
Anthony Mucciardi is the president of TreeRadar, which has developed a ground penetrating radar system that scans both trunks and roots to determine a tree's structural integrity. It is no more invasive than rubbing your hand against the tree. As the operator walks the unit around the trunk, it records data every two-tenths-of-an-inch. The software then re-constructs the data as an image, as if you had cut the tree and looked at it.
"What it's looking for is something different, a discontinuity, so solid wood to hollow wood, a decay, that's something different," he says. "The software then can produce a colored cross-sectional map which tells us is the wood solid? Brown. Is there a decay in there, a hollow? Orange. Is it very close to the surface? Red. Or is this very early stage decay? Green."
Roots are scanned with what looks like a modified baby jogger. As it's wheeled around the tree, the system collects data at different depths. The software then maps out where the roots are and shows if the roots are healthy or not.
Mucciardi says the data results are sent off for a health assessment.
"If the root density looks very, very thin, and/or the trunk looks like it's got some internal problems, then the best thing to do is call in a specialist," says Mucciardi. "That person's called an arborist, who is trained and has certification that they can assess risk and so on. So basically we hand it off that that point."
Mucciardi says the tree radar scanning system isn't something for homeowners, but many tree companies, independent consulting arborists, and extension offices offer this service.
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