Imaging Spectrometry for Soil Applications

E. Ben-Dor*, R. G. Taylor, J. Hill, J. A.M. Demattê, M. L. Whiting, S. Chabrillat, S. Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Imaging spectroscopy (IS) is a new technique that has attracted the attention of many workers in many disciplines. In the field of soil science, this technology is not well developed and additional research is still required. This is in spite of the fact the soil environment has been already studied from a reflectance perspective by many workers, with much success in providing many soil properties. Going from point to image spectrometry is not only a journey from micro- to macroscales but also a long stage that encounters problems such as dealing with data having a low signal-to-noise level, contamination of the atmosphere, large data sets, the bidirectional reflectance distribution functional effect, and more. In this chapter, we attempt to explore the feasibility of IS for soil science first by reviewing the history of IS in general, and then pointing out the potential of reflectance spectroscopy for soil application in particular. We tried to understand why, although being promising, IS is not presently well developed in the soil sciences field and we provide several explanations and solutions for that. We also explore the difficulties in acquiring and processing IS data in general and for soil in particular. To illustrate the IS potentiality in soil science, we have gathered most of the authors who have worked with soil and IS technology, and provided their and other's case studies in this regard. Soil degradation (salinity, erosion, and deposition), merging IS with other remote sensing means, soil mapping and classification, soil genesis and formation, soil contamination, soil water content, and swelling soils are the issues discussed in this study. We review these case studies and analyze how IS technology can be pushed forward for soil science applications. We assume that education, exposing the technology to end users, as well as governmental involvement are the major factors that require attention in this venue. We also suggest that the IS data be provided to the end users as real reflectance and not as raw data. This is because converting the raw data into reflectance is a complicated stage that requires experience, knowledge, and specific infrastructures not available to many users. This stage stands as a barrier that impedes potential end users, inhibiting workers from trying this technique for their needs. This chapter ends with a general call to the soil science audience to extend the utilization of IS technique and compare the ability of the technique to a "giant" that still needs to wake up. We compare the evolution of the well-developed chemometric technique used to analyze soil properties in the laboratory with the "sleeping" IS technique.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Agronomy
EditorsDonald Sparks
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages72
ISBN (Print)9780123743527
StatePublished - 2008

Publication series

NameAdvances in Agronomy
ISSN (Print)0065-2113


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