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Soil spectroscopy

The time, cost, and labour intensiveness of current methods for soil analysis necessitate a shift to rapid and cheaper alternatives. Recent advances in sensing technologies are promising and offer potentially effective methods for soil property quantification and characterisation. 

Our aim is to use novel breakthrough technologies. We adapt such state-of-art spectroscopic methods as: 

  • Visible Near-Infrared (vis-NIR)
  • Mid Infrared (MIR)
  • Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) 

Application of infrared spectroscopy (IR) for the analysis of the key soil properties is based on the fact that spectra hold information on soil fundamental composition − its organic and inorganic materials. IR is a fast, non-invasive and inexpensive analytical method that can be applied for both laboratory and field analysis. 

LIBS is a rapid multi-elemental analytical method. It is based on analysis of the atomic spectral lines in the spectrum of light emitted by a laser-induced plasma, where the emitted light is characteristic of the compositional elements present in the sample. It is also chemical-free and requires a minimum sample preparation. 

We apply a fusion of vis-NIR, MIR, and LIBS techniques in conjunction with advanced multivariate data analysis to determine a wide range of soil characteristics in a cheaper and faster manner. This approach provides more insight on fundamental understanding of soil and its functions. 

Spectroscopy-based soil characterisation is also used by the scientists in modelling and digital soil mapping. In practice the investigated methods and approach proposed here can be also employed by farmers and agricultural consultancy companies in the regulatory decision-making process.    

Maria Knadel

Tenure Track assistant professor Department of Agroecology - Soil Physics and Hydropedology