Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Color analysis rapidly predicts carbon content of soil

Scientists report in the Soil Science Society of America Journal that soil color can be as accurate as the lab for carbon content

Scientists at Iowa Sate University recently discovered that simply looking at soil color is reasonably as accurate as time-consuming and expensive laboratory tests. Soil color can be used as a simple, inexpensive method to predict measurements of soil organic content (SOC). These measurements provide a lens through which researchers can assess soil quality and better understand global carbon cycles. Proper modeling of global carbon cycles and monitoring of carbon sequestration require wide-spread, accurate assessments of soil carbon contents.

The researchers compared field and laboratory measurements to determine the color and the organic content of soil samples from cultivated and native land in northeast Iowa.

"Soil color is one of the most obvious features of soil and organic matter has long been known as one of the primary pigmenting agents in soil," said Skye Willis, lead author of the Iowa State study that was published in the March-April issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Soil field descriptions made in the U.S. are based upon the Munsell color system – field scientists match soil color to standardized color chips based upon hue, chroma, and value. Additional laboratory tests, such as the chroma meter, offer rapid quantification of soil color. In general, darker soil colors indicate more SOC is present.

To test the efficiency of color analysis as a measure of SOC content on different landscapes, scientists collected soil samples from an agricultural field and an adjacent native prairie in northeast Iowa. Scientists analyzed the color of soil samples using three tests:

- Soil cores were split in half and matched to a color chip in a Munsell Soil Color Book

- The matrix color of soil layers were described according to Munsell Soil Book

- Soil was ground and analyzed by a chroma meter, an instrument used to digitally record the color reflectance of soil sample.

From these three assessments, scientists determined the soil color (represented by hue, value and chroma) and predicted the SOC content.

According to Willis, "We found that typical description colors done by a soil scientist were nearly as effective in predicting SOC as the more expensive and tedious method of deriving colors by a chroma meter."

Color analysis is capable of predicting SOC values more accurately in common land areas (agricultural fields) in comparison to less common land areas (native prairies). Additional studies are needed to better predict SOC under native soil conditions.

This rapid SOC measurement will increase the understanding, prediction, and modeling efficiency of carbon distribution across fields, watersheds, and larger regions as the current methods of characterizing SOC are costly and time-consuming. As an alternative to direct measurements of SOC, soil color can be used as an efficient predictor of SOC soil contents.

Sara Uttech | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars
20.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Algorithm could streamline harvesting of hand-picked crops
13.03.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>