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Mobile Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy for Future Application in Precision Agriculture—A Case Study (2023.0)

Erler A., Riebe D., Beitz T., Löhmannsröben H., Leenen M., Pätzold S., Ostermann M., Wójcik M.

Sensors, 23 (16), 7178



In precision agriculture, the estimation of soil parameters via sensors and the creation of nutrient maps are a prerequisite for farmers to take targeted measures such as spatially resolved fertilization. In this work, 68 soil samples uniformly distributed over a field near Bonn are investigated using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). These investigations include the determination of the total contents of macro- and micronutrients as well as further soil parameters such as soil pH, soil organic matter (SOM) content, and soil texture. The applied LIBS instruments are a handheld and a platform spectrometer, which potentially allows for the single-point measurement and scanning of whole fields, respectively. Their results are compared with a high-resolution lab spectrometer. The prediction of soil parameters was based on multivariate methods. Different feature selection methods and regression methods like PLS, PCR, SVM, Lasso, and Gaussian processes were tested and compared. While good predictions were obtained for Ca, Mg, P, Mn, Cu, and silt content, excellent predictions were obtained for K, Fe, and clay content. The comparison of the three different spectrometers showed that although the lab spectrometer gives the best results, measurements with both field spectrometers also yield good results. This allows for a method transfer to the in-field measurements. Intelligence for Soil