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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366269

Research Project: Enhancing Production and Ecosystem Services of Horticultural and Agricultural Systems in the Southeastern United States

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Application of neutron stimulated gamma spectroscopy for soil elemental analysis and mapping

item KAVETSKIY, ALEKSANDR - Auburn University
item YAKUBOVA, GALINA - Auburn University
item SARGSYAN, N - Auburn University
item Prior, Stephen - Steve
item Torbert, Henry - Allen

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/27/2019
Publication Date: 8/5/2020
Citation: Kavetskiy, A., Yakubova, G., Sargsyan, N., Prior, S.A., Torbert III, H.A. 2020. Application of neutron stimulated gamma spectroscopy for soil elemental analysis and mapping [abstract]. International Conference on Agricultural Soil Science and Soil Analysis (ICASSSA 2020). World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology. International Journal of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. 14(6).

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Determining soil elemental content and distribution (mapping) within a field are key features of modern agricultural practice. While traditional chemical analysis is a time consuming and labor-intensive multi-step process (e.g., sample collections, transport to laboratory, physical preparations, and chemical analysis), neutron-gamma soil analysis can be performed in-situ. This analysis is based on the registration of gamma rays issued from nuclei upon interaction with neutrons. Soil elements such as Si, C, Fe, O, Al, K and H (moisture) can be assessed with this method. Data received from analysis can be directly used for creating soil elemental distribution maps (based on ArcGIS software) suitable for agricultural purposes. The neutron-gamma analysis system developed for field application consisted of an MP320 Neutron Generator (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.), 3 sodium iodide gamma detectors (SCIONIX, Inc.) with a total volume of 7 liters, “split electronics” (XIA, LLC), a power system, and an operational computer. Paired with GPS, this system can be used in the scanning mode to acquire gamma spectra while traversing a field. Using acquired spectra, soil elemental content can be calculated. These data can be combined with geographical coordinates in a geographical information system (i.e., ArcGIS) to produce elemental distribution maps suitable for agricultural purposes. Special software has been developed that will acquire gamma spectra, process and sort data, calculate soil elemental content, and combine these data with measured geographic coordinates to create soil elemental distribution maps. For example, 5.5 hours was needed to acquire necessary data for creating a carbon distribution map of an 8.5 ha field. This presentation will briefly describe the physics behind the neutron gamma analysis method, physical construction the measurement system, and main characteristics and modes of work when conducting field surveys. Soil elemental distribution maps resulting from field surveys will be presented and discussed.