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A digital camera as a tool to measure colour indices and related properties of sandy soils in semi‐arid environments

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Soil colour carries important information regarding the soil's chemical and physical properties. However, common practices for measuring soil colour, either by Munsell charts or by field/laboratory spectrometers, are insufficient, due to the subjective and nonquantitative character of the Munsell charts, and to the high cost and inconvenience of field spectrometers. We present herein, a method to characterize the colour of soil samples, and related chemical and physical properties of the soil, using a digital camera, and an array of coloured plastic chips, that are used for calibration purposes. Using 370 samples of sandy soils, we have demonstrated that both RGB values from digital images and their derived soil indices, correlate highly with similar measurements performed by a field spectrometer. When checked against free iron oxide content and against the percentage of fine particles in a sub-sample set of 42 soils, the redness index as measured by the digital camera gave similar or better correlations than those obtained from a field spectrometer, against both free iron oxides and fine particle contents ( R 2 of 89% for the iron oxides, and of 81% for the fine particles). We propose the use of a digital camera as a field analytical tool to determine precisely: soil colour, iron oxide and fine particle content. Further study in this direction, with other soil population and more soil properties, is strongly advised in order to launch this as a vastly applicable and generic method.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography and Human Environment, Tel Aviv University, Israel 2: Seagram Center for Soil and Water Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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