Rapid soil assessment through the application of a portable visible/near-infrared spectrometer in Armenia: Current State of the Art

Speaker: Dr. Scott Demyan, Assistant professor at the School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Date & Time: July 29th, 2019, 11:00 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Location:  Lecture Hall, Center for Ecological and Noosphere Studies

Abovian Street 68, Yerevan, Armenia

Language: English, Armenian

Soils are the basis for human civilization by providing for food, fiber, and fuel production, additional ecosystem services such as water filtration and storage, and a foundation for our roads and buildings. As world population is estimated to increase from around 7.3 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050, soils will be under increasing pressure to continue to provide essential services for both human and natural ecosystems. Several different national and international frameworks have been proposed to assess and monitor soil health and degradation in order to better inform land users and policy makers for protecting our soil resources.

The soil is a mixture of organic and mineral solid compounds together with liquid and gas phases. This results in a complex assemblage from the molecular to global scale. Traditionally soil studies would involve measuring multiple physical, chemical, and biological indicators to classify the soil and examine dynamic soil properties such as organic carbon. Especially for large numbers of samples for national surveys and for repeated monitoring measurements, the time and cost for these analyses can be prohibitive. 

An alternative to traditional costly and laborious soil analyses is infrared spectroscopy. Infrared spectroscopy relies on vibrations of different molecules which can provide both qualitative indicators of different compounds and then be statistically correlated to traditional soil analyses via modeling for quantitative estimates. The soil can be sampled, minimally prepared, and then scanned with an infrared spectrometer, which only takes 1-2 minutes. The measurement itself is non-destructive so the sample can be reused for other analyses. Once a prediction model has been developed for a certain area, then just the spectrum from that soil needs to be measured. Infrared spectroscopy has shown to be able to predict a wide range of properties, but in most cases local or regional predictions models need to be constructed. 

This presentation will examine the feasibility of infrared spectroscopy for the rapid prediction of soil properties for assessing and monitoring degradation in the context of Armenia. The work represents a collaboration with The Center for Ecological and Noosphere Studies.  

Dr. Demyan is currently an assistant professor at the School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. 

The talk is hosted by the Center for Ecological and Noosphere Studies.  Funding for it was made possible through a grant from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and through private donations.

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