‘Data streaming from the spectrometer’: a new dawn for soil assessments

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For over two decades, the Soils Theme of World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in collaboration with partners has been at the cutting edge globally of innovations in soil spectroscopy, creating a large planetary database of soil data, which plays an important role in agricultural research and ecosystem restoration.


World Agroforestry (ICRAF) has been leading advances in soil spectroscopy springing from the conversion of its standard wet chemistry soil laboratory into a Soil–Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory in 2000. This laboratory uses only light to measure the properties of soil rather than expensive and time-consuming chemical processes. Thanks to the rapidity of estimation provided by spectroscopy in the infrared part of the spectrum, the lab produces large volumes of spectral data daily.

The soil spectral library developed by ICRAF has a range of uses, from agricultural research to applications in ecology and ecosystem restoration. Because each soil spectral measurement allows for the prediction of multiple soil properties simultaneously, rapid assessments can be made at low cost.

This work received support from the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund: wle.cgiar.org/donors.

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