Point-of-use sensors and machine learning enable low-cost determination of soil nitrogen
Overfertilization with nitrogen fertilizers has damaged the environment and health of soil, but standard laboratory testing of soil to determine the levels of nitrogen (mainly NH4+ and NO3−) is not performed regularly. In this article, researchers from the Department of Bioengineering, of Imperial College London, demonstrate that point-of-use measurements of NH4+, combined with soil conductivity, pH, easily accessible weather and timing data, allow instantaneous prediction of levels of NO3− in soil (R2 = 0.70) using a machine learning model.
A long short-term memory recurrent neural net-work model can also be used to predict levels of NH4+ and NO3− up to 12 days into the future from a single measurement at day one, with R2NH4+=0.60 and R2NO3−=0.70, for unseen weather conditions. Our machine-learning-based approach eliminates the need for dedicated instruments to determine the levels of NO3− in soil. Nitrogenous soil nutrients can be determined and predicted with enough accuracy to forecast the impact of climate on fertilization planning and to tune timing for crop require-ments, reducing overfertilization while improving crop yields.
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