The current gold standard for soil carbon (C) determination is elemental C analysis using dry combustion. However, this method requires expensive consumables, is limited by the number of samples that can be processed (~100/d), and is restricted to the determination of total carbon. With increased interest in soil C sequestration, faster methods of analysis are needed, and there is growing interest in methods based on diffuse reflectance spectroscopy in the visible, near-infrared or mid-infrared spectral ranges. These spectral methods can decrease analytical requirements and speed sample processing, be applied to large landscape areas using remote sensing imagery, and be used to predict multiple analytes simultaneously. However, the methods require localized calibrations to establish the relationship between spectral data and reference analytical data, and also have additional, specific problems. For example, remote sensing is capable of scanning entire watersheds for soil carbon content but is limited to the surface layer of tilled soils and may require difficult and extensive field sampling to obtain proper localized calibration reference values. The objective of this chapter is to discuss the present state of spectroscopic methods for determination of soil carbon.
Additional publication details
Advances in spectroscopic methods for quantifying soil carbon