Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Evaluation of digital soil mapping approaches with large sets of environmental covariates


Nussbaum, Madlene; Spiess, Kay; Baltensweiler, Andri; Grob, Urs; Keller, Armin; Greiner, Lucie; Schaepman, Michael E; Papritz, Andreas (2018). Evaluation of digital soil mapping approaches with large sets of environmental covariates. SOIL, 4(1):1-22.

Abstract

The spatial assessment of soil functions requires maps of basic soil properties. Unfortunately, these are either missing for many regions or are not available at the desired spatial resolution or down to the required soil depth. The field-based generation of large soil datasets and conventional soil maps remains costly. Meanwhile, legacy soil data and comprehensive sets of spatial environmental data are available for many regions.
Digital soil mapping (DSM) approaches relating soil data (responses) to environmental data (covariates) face the challenge of building statistical models from large sets of covariates originating, for example, from airborne imaging spectroscopy or multi-scale terrain analysis. We evaluated six approaches for DSM in three study regions in Switzerland (Berne, Greifensee, ZH forest) by mapping the effective soil depth available to plants (SD), pH, soil organic matter (SOM), effective cation exchange capacity (ECEC), clay, silt, gravel content and fine fraction bulk density for four soil depths (totalling 48 responses). Models were built from 300–500 environmental covariates by selecting linear models through (1) grouped lasso and (2) an ad hoc stepwise procedure for robust external-drift kriging (georob). For (3) geoadditive models we selected penalized smoothing spline terms by component-wise gradient boosting (geoGAM). We further used two tree-based methods: (4) boosted regression trees (BRTs) and (5) random forest (RF). Lastly, we computed (6) weighted model averages (MAs) from the predictions obtained from methods 1–5.
Lasso, georob and geoGAM successfully selected strongly reduced sets of covariates (subsets of 3–6 % of all covariates). Differences in predictive performance, tested on independent validation data, were mostly small and did not reveal a single best method for 48 responses. Nevertheless, RF was often the best among methods 1–5 (28 of 48 responses), but was outcompeted by MA for 14 of these 28 responses. RF tended to over-fit the data. The performance of BRT was slightly worse than RF. GeoGAM performed poorly on some responses and was the best only for 7 of 48 responses. The prediction accuracy of lasso was intermediate. All models generally had small bias. Only the computationally very efficient lasso had slightly larger bias because it tended to under-fit the data. Summarizing, although differences were small, the frequencies of the best and worst performance clearly favoured RF if a single method is applied and MA if multiple prediction models can be developed.

Abstract

The spatial assessment of soil functions requires maps of basic soil properties. Unfortunately, these are either missing for many regions or are not available at the desired spatial resolution or down to the required soil depth. The field-based generation of large soil datasets and conventional soil maps remains costly. Meanwhile, legacy soil data and comprehensive sets of spatial environmental data are available for many regions.
Digital soil mapping (DSM) approaches relating soil data (responses) to environmental data (covariates) face the challenge of building statistical models from large sets of covariates originating, for example, from airborne imaging spectroscopy or multi-scale terrain analysis. We evaluated six approaches for DSM in three study regions in Switzerland (Berne, Greifensee, ZH forest) by mapping the effective soil depth available to plants (SD), pH, soil organic matter (SOM), effective cation exchange capacity (ECEC), clay, silt, gravel content and fine fraction bulk density for four soil depths (totalling 48 responses). Models were built from 300–500 environmental covariates by selecting linear models through (1) grouped lasso and (2) an ad hoc stepwise procedure for robust external-drift kriging (georob). For (3) geoadditive models we selected penalized smoothing spline terms by component-wise gradient boosting (geoGAM). We further used two tree-based methods: (4) boosted regression trees (BRTs) and (5) random forest (RF). Lastly, we computed (6) weighted model averages (MAs) from the predictions obtained from methods 1–5.
Lasso, georob and geoGAM successfully selected strongly reduced sets of covariates (subsets of 3–6 % of all covariates). Differences in predictive performance, tested on independent validation data, were mostly small and did not reveal a single best method for 48 responses. Nevertheless, RF was often the best among methods 1–5 (28 of 48 responses), but was outcompeted by MA for 14 of these 28 responses. RF tended to over-fit the data. The performance of BRT was slightly worse than RF. GeoGAM performed poorly on some responses and was the best only for 7 of 48 responses. The prediction accuracy of lasso was intermediate. All models generally had small bias. Only the computationally very efficient lasso had slightly larger bias because it tended to under-fit the data. Summarizing, although differences were small, the frequencies of the best and worst performance clearly favoured RF if a single method is applied and MA if multiple prediction models can be developed.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics

6 citations in Scopus®
2 citations in Microsoft Academic
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

42 downloads since deposited on 22 Mar 2018
42 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:22 Mar 2018 12:47
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 15:13
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:2199-398X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-4-1-2018
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID406840_143096
  • : Project TitlePMSoil: Predictive mapping of soil properties for the evaluation of soil functions at regional scale

Download

Download PDF  'Evaluation of digital soil mapping approaches with large sets of environmental covariates'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF
Size: 7MB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)