Methods of Soil Analysis Using Spectrophotometric Technology

Spring is right around the corner and this year I am determined to start my very own garden plot. One of the keys to a good garden is having the right soil, but how do we know what to look for in a soil compound and what methods of soil analysis work best? There are several different methods that provide important information to both amateur gardeners and industrial farmers alike. General methods of soil analysis can vary, but NIR (near-infrared) spectroscopy is an ideal method for accurate analysis of multiple soil content properties and can be implemented both rapidly and inexpensively.

sprout methods of soil analysis
Quality soil is an important component of agriculture that depends on accurate analysis to determine specific properties that ensure optimal growth and sustainability.
Image Source: Flickr user Ruth Hartnup

The benefits of near-infrared spectroscopy

Many methods of soil analysis require complex and time-consuming methods that alter soil composition and can be very costly. However, near-infrared spectroscopy offers a better alternative, and can provide a quick and reliable analysis of soil quality which can easily be applied to land use and farming industries.

There are several methods of analysis that can be obtained through near-infrared spectroscopy, which include both chemical and physical properties. Chemical properties can be quantified by specific reading and variation in spectral data to determine specific components of the soil content. Physical evaluation can also be obtained through near-infrared spectroscopy by measuring the structural values of a sample with light reflectance and absorption of particles and voids within the sample materials to obtain information such as moisture content. This data is essential for the proper evaluation of soil quality for various agricultural uses.

tilled field methods of soil analysis
Spectral analysis provides the quantifiable data necessary to ensure quality soil content for site-specific crop production.
Image Source: Flickr user Ian Sane

Spectral methods of soil analysis can also detect unwanted elements in soil content that may affect the safety and usability of the soil materials. In fact, NIR spectroscopy is one of the methods of soil analysis that is recognized by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) for monitoring fertilizer and herbicide application rates to ensure proper use and safety of these soil addendums.  These methods of soil analysis are also highly useful for organic farmers who strive to meet strict the guidelines, standards, and regulations also set forth by the USDA.

Soil samples and spectral analysis

READ  Contrast Ratio: Determining the Opacity of Paints and Coatings Using Spectrophotometers

When it comes to methods of soil analysis, NIR spectrophotometry is a beneficial option because it allows for a detail analysis of soil properties using only a small undisturbed core sample.  These core samples require only a small section of surface material, which then provides valuable information about the soil quality.

core sample methods of soil analysis
Soil quality analysis using UV/VIS spectroscopy requires the use of only a small core sample, yet can provide valuable information about molecular composition for accurate soil management .
Image Source: Flickr user U.S. Army Corps of Engineering Savannah District

Compared to other methods of soil analysis, spectrophotometers have the ability to predict diverse soil properties both rapidly and easily. Based on near-infrared absorption values, light can be measured according to specific molecular properties, allowing for analysis of various soil materials simultaneously.

Options in NIR Spectrophotometers

NIR spectrophotometric technology today has many various applications. Advancements in technology have allowed for variations in instrumentation in order to meet specific purposes, which are based on certain design elements and geometric principles. HunterLab offers many instrumentation choices designed for a variety of agricultural and industrial purposes. Our equipment that is highly durable, portable, and available at an affordable price. Our expert staff is committed to helping you find a product designed specifically to meet your needs. Contact HunterLab today to learn more.


  • Shilpa Prabhudeva

    I am looking to analyze soil properties using vis-NIR spectrometer, that are related to soil hydraulic properties (requirement to plot soil water retention curve). please let us know if you have a suitable instrument for the same.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.