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Potential of near-infrared spectroscopy to characterize wood products

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Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has high potential as a rapid nondestructive approach to identifying wood species and estimating properties that affect their utilization. This study found that NIRS could differentiate certain wood species groups. True firs (balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.)) could be distinguished from pine and spruce in eastern and western spruce–pine–fir, respectively, more than 95% of the time. Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) could be differentiated from amabilis fir (Abies amabilis Douglas ex J. Forbes) in the Hem–Fir species group with about 90% accuracy. Average wood moisture content (MC) of air-dried southern pine and western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don) samples wood could be estimated by NIRS ±10%–30% at high moisture contents and more accurately (±2%–5%) below 30% MC. Conditioned samples of amabilis fir had predicted MCs within 2%–3% of measured values in the 0%–30% MC range. However, the broad applicability and response of NIRS to a number of factors may be its greatest weakness, since measurements for a specific response, such as MC or species differentiation, may be confounded by the effects of other variables, such as surface roughness and localized density differences. It is recommended that instrumentation with a relatively large probe (large illumination area) be used to average such variables in the sample.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks St., Toronto, ON M5S 3B3, Canada. 2: Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada.

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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