Mapping continuous depth functions of soil carbon storage and available water capacityMalone, BP, McBratney, AB, Minasny, B, Laslett, GM, 2009-12-15 [+]
There is a need for accurate, quantitative soil information for natural resource planning and management. This information shapes the way decisions are made as to how soil resources are assessed and managed. This paper proposes a novel method for whole-soil profile predictions (to 1 m) across user-defined study areas where limited soil information exists. Using the Edgeroi district in north-western NSW as the test site, we combined equal-area spline depth functions with digital soil mapping techniques to predict the vertical and lateral variations of carbon storage and available water capacity (AWC) across the 1500 km2 area. Neural network models were constructed for both soil attributes to model their relationship with a suite of environmental factors derived from a digital elevation model, radiometric data and Landsat imagery. Subsequent fits of the models resulted in an R2 of 44% for both carbon and AWC. For validation at selected model depths, R2 values ranged between 20 and 27% for carbon prediction (RMSE: 0.30–0.52 log (kg/m3)) and between 8 and 29% for AWC prediction (RMSE: 0.01 m/m). Visually, reconstruction of splines at selected validation data points indicated an average fit with raw data values. In order to improve upon our model and validation results there is a need to address some of the structural and metrical uncertainties identified in this study. Nevertheless, the resulting geo-database of quantitative soil information describing its spatial and vertical variations is an example of what can be generated with this proposed methodology. We also demonstrate the functionality of this geo-database in terms of data enquiry for user-defined queries.