A memory-based learning approach utilizing combined spectral sources and geographical proximity for improved VIS-NIR-SWIR soil properties estimation

Nikolaos Tziolas, Nikolaos Tsakiridis, Eyal Ben-Dor, John Theocharis, George Zalidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study was driven by the need to derive improved soil information whereby the strengths of memory-based learning and soil spectroscopy are exploited towards addressing regional challenges and supporting sustainable development across the Balkan, North Africa, and Middle East regions. In this study we focused on a novel derivation of the Spectrum Based Learner (SBL) algorithm by i) taking into account both the geographical proximity and the spectral similarity in the computation of the distance between samples, and ii) using an optimal pair of spectral pre-treatments with the first used for the determination of neighbours while the latter for the estimation of the target property. The proposed approach was tested on a recently developed standardized Soil Spectral Library (SSL) across the VIS-NIR-SWIR spectral region range (350–2500 nm) which comprises 1760 soil samples from 9 different countries and is considered the largest and most diverse soil database infrastructure in the region compatible with other SSLs. Here, we found that our approach presents a great potential for predicting soil texture contents (Clay, Sand, and Silt), organic carbon (OC), Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), pH, and Electrical Conductivity (EC). These results outperform the predictive performance of other state of the art global and local approaches that have been applied to similar large and complex soil datasets. The use of geographical coordinates in the computation of the sample similarities enhanced the predictions of soil properties, since it allowed the generation of local subsets that present similar soil compositions. In addition, we conclude that the various spectral sources as derived by a set of predefined spectral pre-processing techniques contain complementary information which should be combined instead of relying solely on the best spectral pre-processing technique. This approach could be effectively utilized to enhance the predictions of soil properties in large and complex SSLs, since it decreased the Root Mean Square Errors (RMSEs) by a relative mean of 6.47% (average value across the properties – decrease ranging from 2.90% to 9.09%) for the various soil properties, compared to other global and local algorithms. We conclude that national SSLs that were measured under a standardization process could further contribute to the global initiative to address challenges and support a data-centric approach for informed decision making with regards to environmental and agricultural issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2019


  • Local regression modelling
  • Memory-based learning
  • Regional in situ database
  • Soil spectral library
  • Spectrum based learner
  • VIS-NIR-SWIR spectroscopy

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science


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