Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGING THE FATE AND TRANSPORT OF NITROGEN, CARBON, AND AMMONIA IN ANIMAL MANURES TO IMPROVE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Title: Near- Versus Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy for Soil Analysis Emphasizing Carbon and Laboratory Versus On-Site Analysis: Where Are We And What Needs To Be Done?

Author
item Reeves Iii, James

Submitted to: Geoderma
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 18, 2008
Publication Date: May 23, 2009
Citation: Reeves III, J.B. 2009. Near- Versus Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy for Soil Analysis Emphasizing Carbon and Laboratory Versus On-Site Analysis: Where Are We And What Needs To Be Done? Geoderma. 158:3-14.

Interpretive Summary: Over several decades, near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy has been shown to be extremely versatile for the rapid analysis of many agricultural materials including forages, foods and grains. More recently, mid-infrared and near-infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (mid-IR and NIRS, respectively) have come under intense scrutiny for their potential to provide a rapid method for the analysis of soils. This has been especially so for their potential to provide a rapid and inexpensive method for the determination of soil C in order to determine carbon sequestration in soils. Research has demonstrated that for the determination of soil C, diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS), is often more accurate and produces more robust calibrations than NIRS when analyzing ground, dry soils under laboratory conditions. However, DRIFTS is known to be more affected by moisture and sample preparation than NIRS even with the spectrometer sealed or purged with dry nitrogen gas to eliminate effects of moisture on the optics, and ambient carbon dioxide and moisture on the spectra. Also, DRIFTS is not considered to be feasible on samples containing high levels of moisture due to the strong water absorptions in the mid-infrared, although the presence of water is also known to often degrade even near-infrared spectra and subsequent calibrations. While both techniques offer the potential for the analysis of soils on-site, and even in-situ, many questions remain to be answered including: 1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of on-site as opposed to laboratory analysis? 2. What are the effects of moisture and particle size on accuracy if samples are to be analyzed on-site? 3. Which spectral range (mid-infrared or near-infrared) is the most effective for in laboratory and/or on-site analysis? 4. Which analytes can be accurately analyzed by near- and/or mid-infrared spectroscopy? 5. What are the effects of different soil types and compositions on the entire process of calibration development? In addition, while DRIFTS has been shown to be advantageous in the laboratory, if samples need to be ground and dried and instruments purged to obtain useable data, it may not be practical for on-site use. This review will try to answer some of these questions and show where the science stands and what needs to be done before NIRS or DRIFTS can be fully exploited for routine soil analysis.

Technical Abstract: Over several decades, near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy has been shown to be extremely versatile for the rapid analysis of many agricultural materials including forages, foods and grains. More recently, mid-infrared and near-infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (mid-IR and NIRS, respectively) have come under intense scrutiny for their potential to provide a rapid method for the analysis of soils. This has been especially so for their potential to provide a rapid and inexpensive method for the determination of soil C in order to determine carbon sequestration in soils. Research has demonstrated that for the determination of soil C, diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS), is often more accurate and produces more robust calibrations than NIRS when analyzing ground, dry soils under laboratory conditions. However, DRIFTS is known to be more affected by moisture and sample preparation than NIRS even with the spectrometer sealed or purged with dry nitrogen gas to eliminate effects of moisture on the optics, and ambient carbon dioxide and moisture on the spectra. Also, DRIFTS is not considered to be feasible on samples containing high levels of moisture due to the strong water absorptions in the mid-infrared, although the presence of water is also known to often degrade even near-infrared spectra and subsequent calibrations. While both techniques offer the potential for the analysis of soils on-site, and even in-situ, many questions remain to be answered including: 1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of on-site as opposed to laboratory analysis? 2. What are the effects of moisture and particle size on accuracy if samples are to be analyzed on-site? 3. Which spectral range (mid-infrared or near-infrared) is the most effective for in laboratory and/or on-site analysis? 4. Which analytes can be accurately analyzed by near- and/or mid-infrared spectroscopy? 5. What are the effects of different soil types and compositions on the entire process of calibration development? In addition, while DRIFTS has been shown to be advantageous in the laboratory, if samples need to be ground and dried and instruments purged to obtain useable data, it may not be practical for on-site use. This review will try to answer some of these questions and show where the science stands and what needs to be done before NIRS or DRIFTS can be fully exploited for routine soil analysis.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page