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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #404179

Research Project: Sustaining Productivity and Ecosystem Services of Agricultural and Horticultural Systems in the Southeastern United States

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Application of neutron-gamma technologies for soil elemental content determination

item Kavetskiy, Aleksandr
item Yakubova, Galina
item Prior, Stephen - Steve
item Torbert, Henry - Allen

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/17/2023
Publication Date: 9/15/2023
Citation: Kavetskiy, A.G., Yakubova, G.N., Prior, S.A., Torbert III, H.A. 2023. Application of neutron-gamma technologies for soil elemental content determination [abstract]. 2nd Global Summit on Earth Science and Climate Change (Adv. ESCC 2023), London, UK, September 14-15, 2023.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Knowledge of subsurface soil elemental content distribution over agricultural fields is important for optimizing modern agricultural practices and enhancing soil science knowledge. For example, soil carbon is a strong determinant of soil quality, crop productivity, and farm profitability. Thus, accurate field mapping of soil carbon can be beneficial in assessing modern agricultural practices and management decisions for enhancing carbon sequestration and has potential relevance to emerging carbon credit markets. Such soil carbon determinations are desirable since traditional chemical analysis of primary soil elements (particularly carbon) is laborious and time consuming due to the large sample numbers required (to account for landscape variability) and extensive laboratory processing. The neutron-stimulated gamma analysis method can be used for in-situ measurements of primary elements in agricultural soils (e.g., Si, Al, O, C, Fe, and H). This is a non-destructive method that requires no sample preparation and can perform multi-elemental analyses of large soil volumes. Measurement results are negligibly impacted by local sharp changes in elemental contents. Neutron-gamma soil elemental analysis is based on registration of gamma rays issued from nuclei upon interaction with neutrons; gamma rays are issued due to different processes of neutron-nuclei interactions. For primary soil elements, characteristic gamma lines can be used for content determinations in soil. To attain suitable accuracy, elemental content measurements should continue for ~15 minutes per site. Paired with GPS, our developed scanning methodology acquires data that can be directly used for creating soil elemental distribution maps (based on ArcGIS software) in a reasonable timeframe (~20-30 hectares per working day). Created maps are suitable for both agricultural purposes and carbon sequestration estimates. In this presentation, recent USDA-ARS NSDL developments concerning neutron gamma analysis applications will be discussed in more detail.