Using Machine Learning Algorithms to Estimate Soil Organic Carbon Variability with Environmental Variables and Soil Nutrient Indicators in an Alluvial Soil | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
Dezembro 2020
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© 2020 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is an important indicator of soil quality and directly determines soil fertility. Hence, understanding its spatial distribution and controlling factors is necessary for efficient and sustainable soil nutrient management. In this study, machine learning algorithms including artificial neural network (ANN), support vector machine (SVM), cubist regression, random forests (RF), and multiple linear regression (MLR) were chosen for advancing the prediction of SOC. A total of sixty (n = 60) soil samples were collected within the research area at 30 cm soil depth and measured for SOC content using the Walkley–Black method. From these samples, 80% were used for model training and 21 auxiliary data were included as predictors. The predictors include effective cation exchange capacity (ECEC), base saturation (BS), calcium to magnesium ratio (Ca_Mg), potassium to magnesium ratio (K_Mg), potassium to calcium ratio (K_Ca), elevation, plan curvature, total catchment area, channel network base level, topographic wetness index, clay index, iron index, normalized difference build-up index (NDBI), ratio vegetation index (RVI), soil adjusted vegetation index (SAVI), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), normalized difference moisture index (NDMI) and land surface temperature (LST). Mean absolute error (MAE), root-mean-square error (RMSE) and R2 were used to determine the model performance. The result showed the mean SOC to be 1.62% with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 47%. The best performing model was RF (R2 = 0.68) followed by the cubist model (R2 = 0.51), SVM (R2 = 0.36), ANN (R2 = 0.36) and MLR (R2 = 0.17). The soil nutrient indicators, topographic wetness index and total catchment area were considered an indicator for spatial prediction of SOC in flat homogenous topography. Future studies should include other auxiliary predictors (e.g., soil physical and chemical properties, and lithological data) as well as cover a broader range of soil types to improve model performance.

Autores e editores

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

JOHN, Kingsley
Abraham Isong, Isong
Michael Kebonye, Ndiye
Okon Ayito, Esther
Chapman Agyeman, Prince
Marcus Afu, Sunday


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