Smart tools for monitoring soil carbon changes

By dr. ir. VL (Titia) Mulder

There is a need to monitor changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) over time for climate change mitigation and land quality assessment (e.g. for land degradation analyses and food security). Monitoring of SOC is essential when verifying, reporting and monitoring carbon stocks (VRM). The first two are addressed by various techniques and methodologies, the latter is more difficult to do on a large scale. Easy to use, low cost applications would simplify the verification, reporting and monitoring of carbon stocks, examples include the use of smartphone pictures and SCiO sensors. This capacity development is done within the framework of various research initiatives, such the Global Soil Partnership and the ‘4 per mille Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate’.

At our group, we collaborate with various institutes (e.g. ISRIC World Data Center for Soils and CSIRO Australia) to develop smart tools for verifying, reporting and monitoring soil carbon changes using proximal soil sensing techniques. We will continue with these developments and collaborations and we have various possibilities for students to work on this topic. They can work with proximal soil sensing techniques in the field or in the laboratory and contribute to the development of smart proximal soil sensing applications. Research results are foreseen in toolboxes, scientific papers and project proposals to start new PhD projects.  


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·       Mulder, V.L., de Bruin, S., Schaepman, M.E.; Mayr, T. (2011). The use of remote sensing in soil and terrain mapping - A review. Geoderma 162, (1-2), 1-19.