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Guru
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Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 12:47 AM

Is there any simple optical method to detect soil sample elements for N, P, K, S, Zn etc?

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Guru

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#1

Re: Any simple optical method to detect soil sample elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 2:02 AM

What did your internet search come up with?

I think you are looking at a form of Spectral Analyses when saying optical.

If you change your search criteria you might be able to come up with something usefull (yet maybe not simple).

Depends on the definition of simple.

https://www.911metallurgist.com/blog/handheld-xrf-spectrometers

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Any simple optical method to detect soil sample elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 2:52 AM

Hi IdeaSmith:

It is sure an interesting idea to use XRF. I thought of ICP but this sure is a good idea.

I think soil nutrients to the plants should be measured as they will be useful for the plant and not as total amount of elements presents in the soil contents. Hence, I need to correct that part right away. Elements in sand, stones, insoluble rock crystals in soil are totally useless.

I thought about AAS and also reflections and fluorescence measurement from soil sample but looks like I have to concentrate on soil extract and dissolved chemicals only.

Thanks for help.

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#3

Re: Any simple optical method to detect soil sample elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 6:55 AM

Do a search for 'Ocean Optics'. It's a company located in Florida that makes a wide variety of spectrometers for analyzing a wide variety of samples. I bet their engineers can help you.

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Guru
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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Any simple optical method to detect soil sample elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 9:11 AM

Hi Usbport

Yes Ocean Optics do manufacture miniature atomic absorption spectrometers. I am working on chemical extraction method as well as spectral signatures of the required elements. I did literature survey and I am still working on these.

Cu, Fe, Mn are also estimated by few researchers along with Zn. I may have to set up a chemical lab for it to get up to its bottom level of chemical extraction.

I may require about 0.2 nm spectral resolution and I doubt if Ocean Optics mini monochromatic AAS can achieve this. They are mainly for university education.

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#26
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Re: Any simple optical method to detect soil sample elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 9:31 AM

AAS typically uses lamps that are specific for the element in question, no problems with resolution. If necessary, due to flame lumiescence or fluorescence, one may incorporate an etalon or narrow band interference filter to pass the narrow atomic line of the element being analyzed.

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#4

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 7:47 AM

Yes, though generally all of the above can be found in soil apart from <...etc...>.

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#5
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 8:57 AM

Hi PWSlack:

Yes there are etc. things like moisture, organic matter, bacterial and associated matter, and many toxic elements that affect environment.

Initial idea is to help the farmer to grow food with greater yield and with proper supplemented minerals. Other issues are to be dealt separately.

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#7
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 9:24 AM

Good luck with that.

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#22
In reply to #4

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 7:26 AM

If you know what your looking for, makes it easier using a mass spectrometer.... but using it to search unknowns is very time consuming.

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 8:57 AM

Hi phoenix911:

Yes, I do know exactly what I want and also know which are the things that are to be avoided. I did work in AAS and fluorescence spectroscopy earlier and had hell lot of time with organic contamination even from paper dust which has organic FL peak at about 400nm.

Most of the soil spectra are within visible range but some work in mid IR up to 2800nm is also required which is difficult one.

Lots of work has been reported on soil sciences and I am searching information right now.

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#8

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 11:32 AM

Colorimetric assay of soil sample shaken in water and well filtered will be amenable to assays for various elements. Due to interference you often need to follow a certain sequence.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 2:19 PM

I am aware that AAS is not a clean discrete spectra. There are interference overlapping spectral zones and there are also artefacts. Still AAS gives a lot of information.

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 4:25 PM

AAS or spark spectroscopy, or even arc spectroscopy much easier and cheaper to implement than ICP-AES. There is probably a way to flame photometry for some of the elements you need. FEP can do Na, K, Ca, Mg, but falls short on the nonmetals you need. I am not saying it can't work, just that it is not usually done.

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#9

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 1:52 PM

Hach Co. sells test kits for soil analysis also, and they also will sell internationally.

I am sure they have method for N, P, K, S, Zn, and many others. The K analysis may be electrochemical test, similar to sodium ion electrode. SAR - sodium absorption ratio can be measured with a sodium ion electrode and appropriate mV meter.

If you wish to teach farmers how to improve yield, teach them the concept of limiting soil nutrient (usually phosphorus), but other minerals may not be available to plants due to lack of properly broken down organic matter in the soil. Soil gums (from bacterial digestion of residue plant materials turned under in the soil) are key to holding moisture content, releasing nutrients to the roots, and also in improving tilthe of the soil. All of these play a role in improving crop output.

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 2:25 PM

Yes, there is much greater information need as India has diverse crop system. I do have agriculture farm and there are dozen different crops that grow over a span of 90 days. Farm develops mineral depleted state and it is to be enriched. We also do bacterial culture for specific crops. However, bio-fertiliser is not very popular in India.

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#12
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 2:59 PM

You could always move to China, then.

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#15
In reply to #12

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 4:26 PM

Ho Flung Dung?

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#17
In reply to #12

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 9:32 PM

Hi Tornado:

Most of the Tannery work in India is done by Chinese. There is a large population of Chinese in India. Lots of highly educated Indians work in China and many other countries. India does not put any kind of restriction on Indians to live anywhere in the world.

China sure is having great knowledge in agriculture and they do have lots of herbal knowledge as Indians have. Ayurveda in India is a branch of medical science totally based on botanical plant medicine.

Growing medicinal plants is a big agro business in India.

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 4:22 PM

So does this mean there is no such thing as composting in India? Is all the crop by product burned as fuel in kitchens, etc.? Are all the cow chips (and flops) dried and used in "wood" burning stoves for the culinary arts? Hey, don't feel bad, my grandmother used to do just that, and even buffalo chips to cook biscuits on the High Plains of West Texas.

Apparently, since you have a near tropical to tropical climate, your crops grow fast, and probably are quite productive, but there is a heavy work load on the land with your high population, and if no crop residue is plowed under, the tilthe of the soil will decrease until it is near worthless in fertility. You must give something back to mother nature, or she will divorce you! Adding synthetic fertilizers does improve yield to some extent on poor soil, but the best water management practices will not be achieved, nor will the highest yields of rice, corn, soybeans, etc. Also you must rotate crops from legumes (nitrogen fixing plants), to corn, to rice, etc.

I understand it might be hard to consider rotating crops, if that land has always been rice land, and is set up for flood irrigation. Now would be a good time to make a flexible system where any of the major food crops can be produced on the same ground. I have seen farmers in West Texas plant wheat for holding the soil during the windy months of late winter through early spring, then leave the wheat stubble standing, and plant cotton among this stubble. It prevents the cotton seedlings that are vulnerable to "wind burn" from suffering that condition during sand storms.

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#19
In reply to #13

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/04/2016 9:33 AM

Hi James Stewart:

Yes, compost of animal excreta is still a fertiliser but the people involved in dairy are decreasing in number and so there are less animals like bulls now being replaced by machines. Dairies are concentrated as commercial ventures. Not sure if they transfer waste to farms.

We used to put rainy season crop to bury it back in the earth to enrich the earth for organic matter but that is no longer a practice. I am not sure if green waste of organic vegetable goes back as fertiliser or is destroyed.

I have been to Texas few years ago. It looked more like a barren dry land and very open space at the Texas airport. I also been to San Francisco, California which looked different. I want to travel to lot more places in USA in coming years. I will love to be on some farms.

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#25
In reply to #19

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 9:28 AM

It really does depend on what part of Texas you travel to. There are many airports. Texas by itself is the world's 12th largest economy. Houston is muggy, hot, and it rains quite a lot there. Lubbock is much smaller, only about 260,000 persons, and only about 19.18" annual average rainfall. Wide open space aplenty here. El Paso, Tx is in a completely different time zone (almost feels like a separate state over there), and is even more arid.

How does one replace bull with machine? Do you mean artificial insemination of cows? That is a big industry here in the States. Last time I checked machines aren't nearly as much fun to ride. One can't BBQ a machine either (cattle not sacred here).

Next time you come to Texas, try to get a meeting with some of the agriculture professors at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Maybe we can get you to my friend's vineyards out west of Lubbock.

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#18
In reply to #9

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/04/2016 7:11 AM

My reply here is acknowledgement of your suggestion of HACH as an equipment supplier. They have water sample analysis kits available for all the items mentioned that are relatively simple, inexpensive and have some related precission and repeatability. (There may be other brands, just that I'm familiar with that supplier.)

Since their tests also work on water samples, extraction from a soil sample would reveal soluable/available nutrients as opposed to anassay that might liberate fixed elements either from soil particles or plant material that has not yet decayed.

50 g soil sample "shaken" in 1000ml of water, yielding enough filtered liquid for the separate tests for each nutrient, since many use different reagents for the tests.

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#20
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/04/2016 9:38 AM

Hi Just an Engineer:

I think you are right. It is good to extract solids that easily dissolve in water. HCL technique will extract more contents from other matters that may also contribute to the crop over a period of time and are part of the soil. Both kinds of knowledge are important.

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#21
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/04/2016 10:37 AM

Another emerging technique I forgot to mention earlier is LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy). The laser spark is very hot indeed, and will allow spectra from non-metals to appear, competes pretty well with ICP AES.

The matrix of the sample plays a significant role in analysis results for LIBS, so one has to have the correct data collection routines (times between spark and spectral integration, etc.). The matrix can be water extract of soil (filtered), can be the soil itself as long as many "shots" are averaged when average composition is desired. Can do microscopic analysis of tiny domains within the soil.

The cost of this starts at around $20K USD. I will not mention the suppliers here, but they will instantly show up when you Google search them. The weight of the kit is less than 20 kg, hence it is very portable.

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 8:51 AM

Hi James Stewart:

LIBS and ICP are good quick techniques. Earlier I have also used PAS (Photo Acoustics Spectroscopy) but it is not popular in India.

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#27
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 9:37 AM

One of my professors, Edward Eyring, at University of Utah, was in the development of some of the first observations of PAS. Strangely, it was a way to get the vibrational spectrum of some difficult samples. I do not get the connection to soil analysis, although I am not saying that complex algorithms could not detect some elements within the soil quantitatively by changes in the spectrum.

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#16

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/03/2016 4:50 PM

An Apple app called i-Ball might be just what you need.

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#28

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/05/2016 9:44 AM

You may want to set up colorimetric analysis on several small instruments, and do FIA (flow injection analysis) to get the extremely high sample throughput required in most agricultural laboratories. Are you familiar with that?

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#30
In reply to #28

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/06/2016 10:38 PM

Hi James Stewart:

Yes, FIA is very good for analysing large number of samples sequentially in AAS or ICP.

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#29

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/06/2016 9:36 PM

IR, may be?

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#31
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/07/2016 12:15 AM

Hi Mr. small:

Yes, IR spectrum photometer are good for molecular resonance frequency based absorption spectrum specific to molecule and radicals. I think Nitrate, Sulphate, Phosphate, Carbonates etc can be detected by this method. For solids I used KCl binding matrix for IR absorption Spectra.

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/08/2016 9:43 AM

consider sputtering (plasma) to deposit soil minerals on a tape to be run past the detector. The tape can be selected to not absorb the near IR portion where the soil minerals do absorb, or run in reflectance mode.

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#33
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/28/2016 10:30 PM

Hi James Stewart:

Excellent idea. I never thought of Plasma Sputtering for this application.

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#34
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Re: Any Simple Optical Method To Detect Soil Sample Elements N, P, K, S, Zn etc

08/29/2016 10:26 AM

That might be more easily engineered than doing Laser Spark. I really like the idea of the Nd:YAG laser in pulsed mode, focused to a pinpoint, though. In such a case, one might obtain some sort of soil profile as by scanning the laser sparks across a depth or area profile.

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