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Soil Survey and Mapping Using Remote Sensing

Soil Survey and Mapping Using Remote Sensing

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Tropical Ecology
(1): 61-74, 2002 ISSN 0564-3295© International Society for Tropical Ecology
Soil survey and mapping using remote sensing
Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre, Dehradun 248001, India
Soil survey constitutes a valuable resource inventory linked with the survival of life on the earth. The technological advancements in the field of remote sensing and Geo-graphical Information System have been a boon for such surveys. Present paper describes therole of remote sensing and Geographical Information System (GIS) technologies for mappingand characterizing soils at various scales. The spectral behaviour of soil and its components,which is fundamental to deriving information from remote sensing data, is also discussed withillustrations. Furthermore, the scope of present day remote sensing data for varying levels in-formation generation is also reviewed.
El levantamiento de suelos constituye un valioso inventario de recursos ligado ala supervivencia de la vida en la tierra. Los avances tecnológicos en el campo de la percepciónremota y los Sistemas de Información Geográfica han representado un gran adelanto para estetipo de levantamientos. El presente artículo describe el papel de las tecnologías de percepciónremota y de Sistemas de Información Geográfica (SIG) para la elaboración de mapas y la carac-terización de suelos a varias escalas. También se discute e ilustra el comportamiento espectraldel suelo y sus componentes, el cual es fundamental para derivar información a partir de datosde percepción remota. Además, se revisa el ámbito y alcance de los datos actuales de percepciónremota para varios niveles de generación de información.
: A prospecção do solo constitui um precioso elemento no inventário de recursos deque depende a sobrevivência da vida na terra. Os avanços tecnológicos no campo da detecçãoremota e dos Sistema de Informação Geográfica constituíram um impulso notável para taisprospecções. O presente artigo descreve o papel da detecção remota e das tecnologias do Sis-tema de Informação Geográfica (SIG) no mapeamento e caracterização do solo em diferentesescalas. O comportamento espectral do solo e dos seus componentes, que são fundamentaispara obter informação dos dados da detecção remota, é também discutido e ilustrado. Revê-se,além disso, o objectivo dos dados da detecção remota actual, para vários níveis de produção deinformação.
Key words:
Carbonates, mineralogy, moisture, organic matter, remote sensing, salinity, spectralbehaviour, soil, texture.
Soil systems like most natural systems, are indynamic equilibrium. Most changes are slow andimperceptible particularly when viewed in thetime frame of human lifespan. However, catastro-phic events such as high intensity storms can ac-celerate erosion processes resulting in measurable
ddress for Correspondence:
M.L.Manchanda, Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre, Indian Space Research Or-ganisation, 4, Kalidas Road, Dehradun 248001, India.
changes. The changes are mainly in the structureand composition of the material and such changesare referred to as ‘structural changes’. Changes aremeasurable directly or indirectly or may be in-ferred from behaviour of the system. Many of thechanges are related to uses of the soil. These ‘per-formance-related changes are more important asthey can be quantified, particularly in economicvalue terms (Szabolcs 1994).  An intimate knowledge of the kind of soils theirspatial distribution is a prerequisite in developingrational land use plan for agriculture, forestry, irri-gation, drainage etc. Soil resource inventory pro-vides an insight into the potentialities and limita-tion of soil for its effective exploitation. Soil surveyprovides an accurate and scientific inventory of dif-ferent soils, their kind and nature, and extent of distribution so that one can make prediction abouttheir characters and potentialities. It also providesadequate information in terms of land form, ter-races, vegetation as well as characteristics of soils(viz., texture, depth, structure, stoniness, drainage,acidity, salinity and so on) which can be utilized forthe planning and development.More than ninety percent of world’s food pro-duction is dependent on soil (Venkataratnam &Manchanda 1997). The scientific documentation of the properties of Indian soils dates back to 1898when J.W Leather distinguished four major groupsof soils namely Indo-gangetic alluvial soils, black-cotton or regular soils, red soils lying on metamor-phic rocks and lateritic soils (Velayutham 2000).The earliest proposals for study of soils of India ona nationwide scale can be traced back to 1940when Rao Bahadur B. Vishwanath, the then Impe-rial Agricultural Chemist, mould the idea of takingup soil survey on a country wide basis with co-operation from soil scientists of the states. During1948, Dr. A.B. Stewart of Macaulay Institute, Ab-readeen carried out studies on fertility of Indiansoils and submitted a report entitled “Simple Ex-periments on Cultivators’ Field”. He suggestedthat soil survey based on soil climatic zones shouldbe conducted so that a correlation could be madebetween soil types and crop yields. In the year1954, Dr. F.F. Raickens, a soil specialist from USA was invited by Govern-ment of India to advise onsoil survey work to be taken up in India. Based onthe recommendations of Dr. Raickens, the All In-dia Soil Survey scheme was initiated in 1956 atthe Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)with four regional centres located at Delhi, Cal-cutta, Nagpur and Bangalore to carry out recon-naissance soil survey, correlate and classify soilsand prepare small scale soil maps. A soil surveymanual describing the methods of conducting soilsurvey to suit our conditions was prepared andmade available in 1960. A revised soil map of Indiawas brought out in 1962 on the basis of soil surveyand soil classification done by the State and Cen-tral Soil Survey Organization. During 1969, the All India Soil and Landuse Survey Organizationwas bifurcated on the basis of developmental andresearch work. A new organization “National Bu-reau of Soil Survey and Landuse Planning” wasestablished in Nagpur. The establishment of In-dian Photointerpretation Institute (IPI, now In-dian Institute of Remote Sensing) in 1966 providedthe training support to various soil surveyors onthe use of aerial photographs. The initial soil sur-veys were based on either ground methods orthrough on a systematic aerial photointerpretationapproach. A number of studies on soil survey werecarried out by various workers in India in differentregions using aerial photographs. Use of satelliteremote sensing for soil survey and mapping re-ceived appreciation during early 1980s in India,and based on the potential of remote sensing tech-niques it was decided to map all the States andUnion Territories of India on 1:250,000 scale fol-lowing a multiphased approach consisting of imageinterpretation, field survey, soil analysis, classifi-cation, cartography and printing (Velayutham1999).The use of digital image processing for soilsurvey and mapping was initiated with the estab-lishment of National Remote Sensing Agency andRegional Remote Sensing Service Centres. Theinitial works carried out by Venkatratnam (1980); Kudrat
et al
(1990) and Karale (1992) demon-strated the potential of digital image processingtechniques for soil survey. A number of modellingstudies were simultaneously carried out to derive avariety of information from soil maps, e.g. landevaluation, land productivity, soil erosion andhydrologic budget (Kudrat
et al
1990; Saha
et al
 1991; Kudrat 1996; Kudrat
et al
1995, Kudrat
et al
 Development of satellite remote sensing  for soil studies
Before the launch of Landsat-1 (in 1972), ae-rial photographs were being used as a remote sens-
ing tool for soil mapping, and, exhibited their po-tential in analysing physiography, land use anderosion status. Subsequently, 1972 onwards satel-lite data in both digital and analog have been util-ized for preparing small scale soil resource mapsshowing soil sub-groups and their association. Thehigh resolution Landsat TM and Indian RemoteSensing Satellite (IRS) LISS II data which becameavailable during mid eighties, enabled soil scien-tists to map soils at 1:50,000 scale, which is usedfor district level planning. At this scale soils couldbe delineated at association of soil series/familylevel. The SPOT and IRS -PAN data offered stereocapability, which has improved the soil mappingefforts.Indian Remote Sensing satellites (IRS-1A, 1B,1C and 1D) provide state-of-the-art database fornatural resources inventories. Many studies havebeen conducted to explore the potential of LISS-Iand LISS-II data for soil resource mapping both at1:250,000 and 1:50,000 scale. Several studies havebeen initiated on potential use of IRS-1C, LISS IIIand PAN data for mapping soils and it is expectedthat information on scale 1:25,000 to 1:12,500scale could be generated through combination of these data (Kudrat
et al
2000). Studies are alsobeing carried out to explore potential of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data for soil moisture(Mohan
et al
1990) estimation.
Spectral behaviour of soils
Spectral response pattern of soil is generallygoverned by a number of factors. The properties of soils that govern their spectral reflectance are col-our, texture, structure, mineralogy, organic mat-ter, free carbonates, salinity, moisture and the ox-ides/hydroxides of iron and manganese. Chemicalcompositions of the soil influences spectral signa-ture of soils through the absorption processes. Innear infrared (NIR) and middle infrared (MIR)domain, absorption feature of soil components in
Table 1.
Summary of vibrational features (Source: Bear 1968).
Constituents/Modes Reactions Absorption wavelength (nm)H
O- Symmetric stretch 3106- Asymmetric stretch 2903- H-O-H bend 6080Stretching fundamental 2770 A1-or Mg-OH bend 2200 or 2300Oxides - Fundamental stretching 5000Hematite - Fe-O fundamental stretching 20000Carbonates 7000, 11000-1200013000-15000Phosphates 9250, 10300,1800028500Sulphates 9000, 10, 200, 16000, 22200Gypsum - Overtones and combination of OH stretching in molecularwater1750, 2300- Fundamental bending mode of constitutional water 6000- Si-O bending around 5000Silicates - Si-O stretching 1000- Si-O-Si, A1-O-Si stretches 12000-15000- (Si, A1)-O-(A1, Si) stretch 15000-20000- Deformation and bending modes of O-(Al, Si)-O,(Si, A1)-O-(Si, A1) O-(A1,Si)-O20000-40000- A1, Si-O metal valence stretching 20000-40000

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