Importance of soil health has gained renewed momentum in the past several years. While awareness of soil health is increasing, it is essential to have a good understanding of what soil health entails, how it is measured, and how to manage it for optimal and sustainable delivery of the ecosystem services besides, food security and climate resilience. However, most of the laboratory analytical procedures are time-consuming, laborious, and costly for large scale sample analysis. Soil Health Card Scheme under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture by the Government of India aims at promoting location as well as crop-specific sustainable soil health management, including the judicious application of fertilizers for improving/sustaining soil health and its productivity. For successful implementation of such missions, rapid and accurate soil testing methods using advanced tools and techniques are essential .
Recently, infrared spectroscopy has been recognized as one of the promising techniques to address the limitations of wet chemistry. This technique can be used for rapid and cost-effective precise assessments of various soil properties. The latest research trends demonstrate considerable research effort on developing near-infrared (NIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) methods for the rapid estimation of soil parameters. The diffused reflectance spectroscopy (DRS), comprising both NIR and MIR regions, is emerging as a new tool to obtain information on soil and may be an important step in the fast, reliable, and economic estimation of soil characteristics for sustainable management. These techniques do not use environmentally harmful chemicals, require fewer pre-treatments, and, when combined with multivariate calibrations, a single spectrum can provide estimates of a number of soil properties. The techniques are highly sensitive to both organic and inorganic soil composition, making them potentially useful and powerful tools for the assessment and monitoring of soil and its quality.
In this backdrop, ICAR-lndian Institute of Soil Science Bhopal and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) are jointly organizing an international webinar on “Soil Spectroscopy – An Emerging Technique for Rapid Soil Health Assessment” on 1 October 2020. The aim of the webinar is to explore the possibilities of potential use of near-infrared (NIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) techniques for soil health management and digital soil mapping.