Comparing the effect of different sample conditions and spectral libraries on the prediction accuracy of soil properties from near- and mid-infrared spectra at the field-scale

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Breure, T. S., Prout, J. M., Haefele, S. M., Milne, A. E., Hannam, J. A., Moreno-Rojas, S. and Corstanje, R. 2022. Comparing the effect of different sample conditions and spectral libraries on the prediction accuracy of soil properties from near- and mid-infrared spectra at the field-scale. Soil & Tillage Research. 215, p. 105196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2021.105196

AuthorsBreure, T. S., Prout, J. M., Haefele, S. M., Milne, A. E., Hannam, J. A., Moreno-Rojas, S. and Corstanje, R.
Abstract

The prediction accuracy of soil properties by proximal soil sensing has made their application more practical. However, in order to gain sufficient accuracy, samples are typically air-dried and milled before spectral measurements are made. Calibration of the spectra is usually achieved by making wet chemistry measurements on a subset of the field samples and local regression models fitted to aid subsequent prediction. Both sample handling and wet chemistry can be labour and resource intensive. This study aims to quantify the uncertainty associated with soil property estimates from different methods to reduce effort of field-scale calibrations of soil spectra. We consider two approaches to reduce these expenses for predictions made from visible-near-infrared ((V)NIR), midinfrared (MIR) spectra and their combination. First, we considered reducing the level of processing of the samples by comparing the effect of different sample conditions (in-situ, unprocessed, air-dried and milled). Second, we explored the use of existing spectral libraries to inform calibrations (based on milled samples from the UK National Soil Inventory) with and without 'spiking' the spectral libraries with a small subset of samples from the study fields. Prediction accuracy of soil organic carbon, pH, clay, available P and K for each of these approaches was evaluated on samples from agricultural fields in the UK. Available P and K could only be moderately predicted with the field-scale dataset where samples were milled. Therefore this study found no evidence to suggest that there is scope to reduce costs associated with sample processing or field-scale calibration for available P and K. However, the results showed that there is potential to reduce time and cost implications of using (V)NIR and MIR spectra to predict soil organic carbon, clay and pH. Compared to field-scale calibrations from milled samples, we found that reduced sample processing lowered the ratio of performance to inter-quartile range (RPIQ) between 0% and 76%. The use of spectral libraries reduced the RPIQ of predictions relative to field-scale calibrations from milled samples between 54% and 82% and the RPIQ was reduced between 29% and 70% for predictions when spectral libraries were spiked. The increase in uncertainty was specific to the combination of soil property and sensor analysed. We conclude that there is always a trade-off between prediction accuracy and the costs associated with soil sampling, sample processing and wet chemical analysis. Therefore the relative merits of each approach will depend on the specific case in question.

KeywordsIn-situ spectroscopy; Local-regional scale; National Soil Inventory; Partial least-squares regression; Spiking
Year of Publication2022
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Journal citation215, p. 105196
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2021.105196
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 3 (WP3) - Sustainable intensification - optimisation at multiple scales
BBS/E/C/000I0100
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online07 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted24 Aug 2021
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0167-1987

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