Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Soil study helps combat climate change

An EU-funded study of soil organic carbon (SOC) at the soil horizon scale (pedon) scale is helping to mitigate climate change.
Soil study helps combat climate change
Distribution of carbon within the soil needs to be clearly understood so that carbon sequestration programmes can be designed that increase and secure national carbon stocks. This includes quantifying the quality and stability soil organic carbon (SOC) being sequestered.

The aim of the CSECURE (Assessment of soil carbon security using emerging techniques in hyperspectral imaging, X-ray florescence and pedometrics) project was to determine the role of small-scale spatial organization of SOC in topsoil with respect to the long-term security of the abiotic carbon store.

Project partners developed a new technique for measuring of SOC in soils using a unique combination of laboratory based hyperspectral imaging and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanning. The generation of high quality, high resolution data at the soil horizon scale enables soil dynamics to be studied in much greater detail.

Hyperspectral imaging captured information in the visible near-infrared (vis-NIR) region on a pixel-by-pixel basis of the acquired image. Chemometric techniques were then used to model spectral data with reference macro-measurements of the chemical property of interest, in this instance SOC. The predictive model was then used to predict SOC in each pixel of a hyperspectral image to generate a high resolution SOC concentration map.

Maps showing the spatial distribution of SOC throughout the soil horizon are enabling a greater understanding of the agricultural management required to efficiently sequester SOC. The new tool for assessing SOC scale also complements the emerging discipline of digital soil morphometrics, which can be defined as the application of tools and techniques for measuring, mapping and quantifying soil profile properties.

CSECURE will enable multiple soil factors to be examined simultaneously, such as SOC and soil geochemistry in much greater detail to determine the link between SOC and soil management. These findings will have a direct impact on ensuring sustainable soil use and tackling climate change by helping to define agricultural management practices to achieve quantifiable SOC sequestration.

The work of CSECURE will pave the way for government SOC sequestration programmes to mitigate current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Furthermore, the positive side-effect of improved overall soil quality will ensure the long term security of soils.

Related information


Soil organic carbon, CSECURE, climate change, carbon sequestration, hyperspectral imaging, X-ray florescence core scanning, pedometrics, chemometrics, digital soil morphometrics, soil geochemistry
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