Global Soil Partnership

Global Soil Spectroscopy Assessment - Spectral Soil Data: Needs and Capacities

Soil spectroscopy is a rapidly growing field of research used to measure soil properties and generate soil data. In 2020, the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) launched its initiative on soil spectroscopy to build the capacity of soil laboratories worldwide to use this technology. In order to assess laboratories needs and capacities, and to develop a target oriented work plan, GLOSOLAN (with the support of ISRIC – World Soil Informationasked its members to complete an online survey. Between November 2019 and July 2020, 97 laboratories and experts from 56 different countries completed the survey.


The information collected in the survey provides an overview of the current expertise, capabilities, needs and priority areas for labs that want to start or improve their spectral measurements and modelling, for both MIR and VNIR regions. Laboratories that do not perform spectral measurements at this time, from all regions, identified the lack of equipment as the main drawback in adopting spectral measurements, followed by (lack of) training and procedures. Labs that already perform spectral measurements indicated challenges with respect to building a spectral calibration library, quality checks, sample preparation; and in the modelling stage, judging the result, quality checks on the spectra and building the spectral model itself. However, different obstacles were reported by laboratories in each region.

In general, there is a need to raise awareness on the potential application of soil spectroscopy as an alternative for wet chemistry. In addition, laboratories expressed the need for community and technical support to properly implement soil spectroscopy measurements, as there is a strong demand from clients in many countries. This includes standard operating procedures, tools for quality checks, training, standardized reference samples, spectral model building and performance. A successful soil spectroscopy set-up requires the implementation of an online (open source) spectral calibration library and the establishment of a user-friendly web platform to allow for data provisioning and processing, with the option to download and model data.

Laboratories clearly expressed their availability to join efforts and to contribute to this initiative.

Please download the “Global Soil Spectroscopy Assessment 2020 | Spectral soil data: needs and capacities” at to access additional information on this publication.