The laboratory was originally part of the AfSIS project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which explored African soil health and associated geospatial information through innovative information products and services.
It is now the reference lab for new initiatives using dry spectroscopy in soil science and agricultural applications outside of Africa.
The lab uses innovative dry spectroscopic analysis of soil, plant and fertiliser materials with an economical and high throughput analysis. The aim is to provide high quality soil information and improved precision agriculture by better understanding the link between soil characteristics and crop productivity and nutrition.
Within AfSIS the lab was responsible for:
Mid-infrared (MIR) diffuse reflectance spectroscopy measures properties including nutrient availability, pH, CEC (cation exchange capacity), OC (organic carbon) and mineralogy.
Laser diffraction particle size analysis (LDPSA) measures soil texture and micro-aggregate stability.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) spectroscopy is used to further analyse soil mineralogyn and X-ray flourescence (XRF) spectroscopy provides total elemental content. Used together, these techniques represent a powerful approach not possible using any single technique.
In partnership with Cranfield University, the lab has provided studentships in soil technology innovation to accelerate applications of science and engineering advances to soil technology development in order to tackle widely-acknowledged constraints to soil and land management, both nationally and globally. For further details contact the team below.
1. Viscarra Rossel, R.A., Behrens T., Ben-Dor E., Brown D.J., Demattê J.A.M., Shepherd K.D., et al, 2016. A global spectral library to characterize the world's soil. Earth-Science Reviews (155), 198-230.
2. Towett E.K., Shepherd K.D., Sila A., Aynekulu E, and Cadisch G. 2015. Mid-Infrared and Total X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy Complementarity for Assessment of Soil Properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal (79), 1375-1385.
3. Sila A.M., Pokhariyal G.P. and Shepherd K.D. 2016. Evaluating the utility of mid-infrared spectral subspaces for predicting soil properties. Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems (153), 92–105.