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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pendleton, Oregon » Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #383800

Research Project: Maximizing Long-term Soil Productivity and Dryland Cropping Efficiency for Low Precipitation Environments

Location: Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center

Title: Can agricultural management induced changes in soil organic carbon be detected using mid-infrared spectroscopy?

Author
item SANDERMAN, JONATHAN - Woodwell Climate Research Center
item SAVAGE, KATHLEEN - Woodwell Climate Research Center
item DANGAL, SHREE - Woodwell Climate Research Center
item DURAN, GABE - Woodwell Climate Research Center
item RIVARD, CHARLOTTE - Woodwell Climate Research Center
item CAVIGELLI, MICHAEL - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Gollany, Hero
item JIN, VIRGINIA - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item LIEBIG, MARK - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item RUI, YICAHO - Rodale Institute
item STEWART, CATHERINE - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item OMONDI, EMMANUEL - Tennessee State University

Submitted to: Remote Sensing
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/5/2021
Publication Date: 6/9/2021
Citation: Sanderman, J., Savage, K., Dangal, S.R., Duran, G., Rivard, C., Cavigelli, M.A., Gollany, H.T., Jin, V.L., Liebig, M.A., Rui, Y., Stewart, C., Omondi, E.C. 2021. Can agricultural management induced changes in soil organic carbon be detected using mid-infrared spectroscopy? Remote Sensing. 13(12):2265. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122265.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122265

Interpretive Summary: A major limitation to building credible soil carbon sequestration programs is the cost of measuring soil carbon change. Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) is considered a viable low-cost alternative to traditional laboratory analysis of soil organic carbon (SOC). ARS researchers at Pendleton, Oregon; Beltsville, Maryland; Lincoln, Nebraska; Mandan, North Dakota; Fort Collins, Colorado (and Woodwell Climate Research Center and Rodale Institute researchers) used current used archived soil samples from seven long-term research trials in the U.S. to test whether DRS can detect subtle management induced changes in SOC at a given site using mid infrared (MIR) spectroscopy coupled with the USDA-NRCS Kellogg Soil Survey Laboratory MIR spectral library. Overall, MIR-based estimates of SOC%, with samples scanned on a secondary instrument, were excellent except at two sites. These results suggest that large existing MIR spectral libraries can be operationalized in other laboratories for successful carbon monitoring despite some uncertainty, primarily in the form of bias.

Technical Abstract: A major limitation to building credible soil carbon sequestration programs is the cost of measuring soil carbon change. Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) is considered a viable low-cost alternative to traditional laboratory analysis of soil organic carbon (SOC). While numerous studies have shown that DRS can produce accurate and precise estimates of SOC across landscapes, whether DRS can detect subtle management induced changes in SOC at a given site has not been resolved. Here, we leverage archived soil samples from seven long-term research trials in the U.S. to test this question using mid infrared (MIR) spectroscopy coupled with the USDA-NRCS Kellogg Soil Survey Laboratory MIR spectral library. Overall, MIR-based estimates of SOC%, with samples scanned on a secondary instrument, were excellent with the root mean square error ranging from 0.10 to 0.33 % across the seven sites. In all but two instances, the same statistically significant (p < 0.10) management effect was found using both the lab-based SOC% and MIR estimated SOC% data. Despite some additional uncertainty, primarily in the form of bias, these results suggest that large existing MIR spectral libraries can be operationalized in other laboratories for successful carbon monitoring.