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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Comparing predictive abilities of three visible-near infrared spectrophotometers for soil organic carbon and clay determination

Knadel, Maria; Stenberg, Bo; Deng, Fan; Thomsen, Anton; Greve, Mogens Humlekrog


Due to advances in optical technology, a wide range of spectrometers is available. Recent interests in soil global libraries and sensor fusion presents a challenge with respect to combining data from different instrumentation. Little research, however, has been done on the comparison of visible-near infrared (vis-NIR) spectrometers for soil characterisation. There is a need for more work on the effects of scanning strategies and use of different soil instrumentation. We compared three vis-NIR spectrometers with varying resolution, signal-to-noise ratios and spectral range. Their performance was evaluated based on spectra collected from 194 Danish top soils and used to determine soil organic carbon (SOC) and clay content. Scanning procedures for the three spectrophotometers where done according to uniform laboratory protocols. Soil organic carbon and clay calibrations were performed using PLS regression. One third of the data set was used as an independent test set. A range of spectral preprocessing methods was applied in search of model improvement. Validation for SOC content using an independent data set derived from all three spectrophotometers provided values of RMSEP between 0.45% and 0.52%, r(2)=0.42-0.59 and RPD=1.2-1.4. Clay content was predicted with a higher precision resulting in RMSEP values between 2.6% and 2.9%, r(2)=0.71-0.77 and RPD values in the range from 2.2 to 2.5. No substantial differences in the prediction accuracy were found for the three spectrometers, although there was a tendency that, in the tradeoff between noise and resolution, low noise was the more important for SOC and clay predictions. The application of different spectral preprocessing procedures did not generate important improvements of the calibration models either. Additionally, data simulation analysis, including resampling to a coarser resolution and addition of noise, was performed. No, or very little, effect of sampling resolution and additional noise on the performance of the spectrophotometers was reported. The results from this study showed that, as long as strict laboratory scanning protocols were followed, no significant differences in constituent determination were found, despite differences in spectral range, spectral resolution, spectral sampling intervals and sample presentation methods. The differences in predictive abilities between the spectrometers were mostly due to differences in spectral range.


vis-NIR spectroscopy; predictive ability; soil organic carbon (SOC); clay; spectrophotometer comparison

Published in

Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy
2013, volume: 21, number: 1, pages: 67-80

Authors' information

Knadel, Maria
Aarhus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Deng, Fan
Aarhus University
Thomsen, Anton
Greve, Mogens Humlekrog
Aarhus University

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science

Publication Identifiers


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