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Determining soil properties in Amazonian Dark Earths by reflectance spectroscopy

Journal article
Authors Suzana Romeiro Araújo
Mats Söderström
Jan Eriksson
Christian Isendahl
Per Stenborg
José A. M. Demattê
Published in Geoderma
Volume 237-238
Pages 308-317
ISSN 0016-7061
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 308-317
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2014....
Keywords Diffuse reference spectroscopy, Soil organ carbon, Partial least square regression, Anthrosols, Amazonian Dark Earths, Pre-Columbian land use
Subject categories Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Soil Science, Archaeology


In the Brazilian Amazon patches of anthropogenic soils known as Amazonian Dark Earths (ADEs) occur. These soils are rich in carbon (C) and plant nutrients compared to the naturally occurring strongly weathered soils. In this paper we explore the potential of visible to near infrared (vis–NIR) and mid infrared (MIR) spectroscopy as an alternative to traditional soil analysis of ADE properties for predicting and assessing spatial distributions. We also test whether partial least square regression (PLSR) models generated from soil data at one ADE site can serve as a basis for predictive assessments of soil characteristics at another. The study was carried out at two locations on the Belterra Plateau, Pará state, Brazil, each including soils that displayed typical ADE characteristics. Laboratory analyses confirmed the occurrence of general properties typical of ADE: elevated pH, phosphorus (P), exchangeable calcium (Ca), cation exchange capacity (CEC), and soil organic carbon (SOC) in the study areas. For C and CEC, MIR models were more efficient than those based on vis–NIR (R2 = 0.90 and 0.82 vs. 0.72 and 0.63). The soil maps produced from the PLSR models adequately described the spatial pattern of SOC, CEC, and Ca.However, usefulmodels of soil P could not be produced.Weconclude that spectroscopy can be useful for assessing the spatial distribution of some of the most important ADE properties. MIR spectroscopy models in particular have the potential to be an alternative to traditional soil analysis.

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