In situ characterization of soil properties using visible near-infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopy



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Texas A&M University


Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) is a rapid proximal-sensing method that is being used more and more in laboratory settings to measure soil properties. Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy research that has been completed in laboratories shows promising results, but very little has been reported on how DRS will work in a field setting on soils scanned in situ. Seventy-two soil cores were obtained from six fields in Erath and Comanche County, Texas. Each soil core was scanned with a visible near-infrared (VNIR) spectrometer with a spectral range of 350-2500 nm in four different combinations of moisture content and pre-treatment: field-moist in situ, air-dried in situ, field-moist smeared in situ, and air-dried ground. Water potential was measured for the field-moist in situ scans. The VNIR spectra were used to predict total and fine clay content, water potential, organic C, and inorganic C of the soil using partial least squares (PLS) regression. The PLS model was validated with data 30% of the original soil cores that were randomly selected and not used in the calibration model. The root mean squared deviation (RMSD) of the air-dry ground samples were within the in situ RMSD and comparable to literature values for each soil property. The validation data set had a total clay content root mean squared deviation (RMSD) of 61 g kg-1 and 41 g kg-1 for the field-moist and air-dried in situ cores, respectively. The organic C validation data set had a RMSD of 5.8 g kg-1 and 4.6 g kg-1 for the field-moist and air-dried in situ cores, respectively. The RMSD values for inorganic C were 10.1 g kg-1 and 8.3 g kg-1 for the field moist and air-dried in situ scans, respectively. Smearing the samples increased the uncertainty of the predictions for clay content, organic C, and inorganic C. Water potential did not improve model predictions, nor did it correlate with the VNIR spectra; r2-values were below 0.31. These results show that DRS is an acceptable technique to measure selected soil properties in-situ at varying water contents and from different parent materials.