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Measuring Soil Carbon Rapidly With
emerging method of soil carbon measurement involves a tractor and lightwaves.
The technology is called near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR). Veris Technologies,
The process involves a light that is directed at the soil through a sapphire window. The window is pressed directly against the soil and is pulled 5 cm below the soil surface. The light bounces off the soil, and is broken into wavelengths like a prism. Those wavelengths can be calibrated to produce a carbon map of the field. A companion NIR probe is used to measure soil carbon up to 60 cm below the soil surface to get carbon measurements at a wide range of depths.
The advantages are that hundreds of carbon measurements can be taken at a time, and no soil preparation is needed, says Eric Lund of Veris Technologies.
Near-infrared light waves are between visible light waves and microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum. NIR spectroscopy has been used since the 1950s to test grains, feeds, meat, and other biological materials. It has also been used in the pharmaceutical industry because of its nondestructive nature, according to a presentation titled “Mapping Soil Carbon with On-The-Go Near Infrared Spectroscopy” by Colin Christy of Veris Technologies (http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/ctec/Fall%20Forum%20pdf%20files/Papers_Abstracts/Christy_Veris.pdf). Portable pull-behind NIR technology for in-field measurements has been pursued since the 1980s.
takes carbon measurements, says
maximum accuracy, this should be done on a field-to-field basis -- and in the
future, an area-to-area basis, says
-- Katie Starzec, CASMGS
Figure 1. The NIR equipment from Veris Technologies making field measurements using a shank.
Figure 2. To calibrate the NIR equipment readings, soil probes are first used to determine actual soil carbon levels.