Estimating Soil Cation Exchange Capacity from Soil Physical and Chemical Properties
Friday, 19 December 2014
The soil Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is an important soil characteristic that has many applications in soil science and environmental studies. For example, CEC influences soil fertility by controlling the exchange of ions in the soil. Measurement of CEC is costly and difficult. Consequently, several studies attempted to obtain CEC from readily measurable soil physical and chemical properties such as soil pH, organic matter, soil texture, bulk density, and particle size distribution. These studies have often used multiple regression or artificial neural network models. Regression-based models cannot capture the intricate relationship between CEC and soil physical and chemical attributes and provide inaccurate CEC estimates. Although neural network models perform better than regression methods, they act like a black-box and cannot generate an explicit expression for retrieval of CEC from soil properties. In a departure with regression and neural network models, this study uses Genetic Expression Programming (GEP) and Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS) to estimate CEC from easily measurable soil variables such as clay, pH, and OM. CEC estimates from GEP and MARS are compared with measurements at two field sites in Iran. Results show that GEP and MARS can estimate CEC accurately. Also, the MARS model performs slightly better than GEP. Finally, a sensitivity test indicates that organic matter and pH have respectively the least and the most significant impact on CEC.