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Digital Soils: Spectroscopy

Soil Spectroscopy
"Digital soils at the James Hutton Institute"

Infrared (IR) spectroscopy can provide a chemical profile or “digital fingerprint” of a soil which encompasses both the organic and inorganic components, allowing assessment of the nature and proportion of the soil organic matter (SOM) and the mineralogy. In addition to the qualitive assessment of the soil, soil spectroscopy has been proven to be successful in the quantitative analysis of soil samples and can provide a fast, cheap, non-destructive and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional analytical approaches. Calibration models to predict soil parameters from infrared spectra in the near infrared (NIR) and middle infrared (MIR) regions are developed in combination with linear and non-linear multivariate data analysis algorithms. Here in the James Hutton institute we have created spectral databases for the NIR and MIR for National Soil Inventory of Scotland (NSIS), a spatial dataset covering all of Scotland, and used the spectral data to develop different calibrations models to predict soil properties. Research is still ongoing to develop a portable tool, based on IR spectroscopy, for predicting ranges of soil properties in the field.

Associated staff:

Jean Roberston and Reza Haghi

Learning & Resources


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.