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Near-infrared spectroscopy can predict the composition of organic matter in soil and litter


J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci., 169:168-174 (2006).


The usefulness and limitations of near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) for the assessment of several soil characteristics are still not sufficiently explored. The objective of this study was to evaluate the ability of visible and near-infrared reflectance (VIS-NIR) spectroscopy to predict the composition of organic matter in soils and litter. Reflectance spectra of the VIS-NIR region (400-2500 nm) were recorded for 56 soil and litter samples from agricultural and forest sites. Spectra were used to predict general and biological characteristics of the samples as well as the C composition which was measured by 13C-CPMAS-NMR spectroscopy. A modified partial least-square method and cross-validation were used to develop equations for the different constituents over the whole spectrum (1st to 3rd derivation). Near-infrared spectroscopy predicted well the C : N ratios, the percentages of O-alkyl C and alkyl C, the ratio of alkyl C to O-alkyl C, and the sum of phenolic oxidation products: the ratios of standard deviation of the laboratory results to standard error of cross-validation (RSC) were greater than 2, the regression coefficients (a) of a linear regression (measured against predicted values) ranged from 0.9 to 1.1, and the correlation coefficients (r) were greater than 0.9. Satisfactorily (0.8 to 1.2, r 0.8, and 1.4 RSC 2.0) assessed were the contents of C, N, and production of DOC, the percentages of carbonyl C and aromatic C and the ratio of alkyl C to aromatic C. However, the N-mineralization rate and the microbial biomass were predicted unsatisfactorily (RSC < 1.4). The good and satisfactory predictions reported above indicate a marked usefulness of NIRS in the assessment of biological and chemical characteristics of soils and litter.