Global Soil Partnership


Soil spectroscopy is a method that has the potential of more rapidly and cost-effectively measuring soil properties in the lab and in the field. Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation. It is based on the principle that molecular vibrations and electronic transitions associated with soil constituents absorb light while interacting with radiation. Soil spectral analysis estimates soil properties by calibrating conventional reference measurements, like wet chemistry soil tests, to the spectral signatures. The potential of spectral technology in soil mapping and monitoring is tremendous as it is fast, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, nondestructive, reproducible and repeatable. Numerous soil properties can be directly calibrated to near- and mid-infrared spectra (MIR) due to the fact that spectral signatures respond to soil mineral and organic composition.  However, major constraints for the wider uptake of soil spectroscopy include: (1) the lack of standards and protocols to ensure compatible spectral measurements across laboratories, (2) the lack of calibrated spectral libraries for different soil types and geographies, and (3) the lack of capacity of conventional soil laboratories in spectral methods.

With the support of its partners, the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) is aiming to:

  1. Build a globally representative calibrated soil spectral library (database) based on MIR spectra with accompanying soil property reference data recorded in one gold-standard reference laboratory;
  2. Provide a freely available and easy-to-use soil property estimation service based on the evolving GLOSOLAN global MIR spectral library;
  3. Support countries to contribute to the GLOSOLAN global spectral calibration library and use the soil property estimation service;
  4. Harmonize soil spectroscopy methods (including soil sample preparation, spectral measurement and quality assurance of data analysis) by developing standard and protocols;
  5. Develop the capacity of countries and labs in the performance of lab-based soil spectroscopy measurements.

To learn more about the work plan of GLOSOLAN on soil spectroscopy, please consult the concept note on a global soil spectral calibration library and estimation service (here) and the concept note on capacity development in soil spectroscopy (here).

If you are interested in contributing to or benefiting from this initiative please send an email to [email protected] and [email protected].




2019, Lincoln, USA

First meeting of the Steering Committee on Spectroscopy

Working group leaders

-          Keith Shepherd, ICRAF, Kenya

-          Richard Ferguson, USDA, United States

-          Fenny van Egmond, ISRIC, Netherlands


We are a network of experts and institutions working on a common objective. Join our team, become a partner or a member of our working group by sending an email to [email protected] and [email protected].