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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2019-83
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2019-83
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: original research article 07 Nov 2019

Submitted as: original research article | 07 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal SOIL (SOIL).

Oblique geographic coordinates as covariates for digital soil mapping

Anders Bjørn Møller, Amélie Marie Beucher, Nastaran Pouladi, and Mogens Humlekrog Greve Anders Bjørn Møller et al.
  • Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, 8830, Denmark

Abstract. Decision tree algorithms such as Random Forest have become a widely adapted method for mapping soil properties in geographic space. However, implementing explicit geographic relationships into these methods has proven problematic. Using x- and y-coordinates as covariates gives orthogonal artefacts in the maps, and alternative methods using distances as covariates can be inflexible and difficult to interpret. We propose instead the use of coordinates along several axes tilted at oblique angles to provide an easily interpretable method for obtaining a realistic prediction surface. We test the method for mapping topsoil organic matter contents in an agricultural field in Denmark. The results show that the method provides accuracies on par with the most reliable alternative methods, namely kriging and the use of buffer distances to the training points. Furthermore, the proposed method is highly flexible, scalable and easily interpretable. This makes it a promising tool for mapping soil properties with complex spatial variation. We believe that the method will be highly useful for mapping soil properties in larger areas, and testing it for this purpose is a logical next step.

Anders Bjørn Møller et al.
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Status: open (until 06 Jan 2020)
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Anders Bjørn Møller et al.
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R code for the manuscript "Oblique geographic coordinates as covariates for digital soil mapping" A. B. Møller, A. M. Beucher, N. Pouladi, and M. Humlekrog Greve https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3496935

Anders Bjørn Møller et al.
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Latest update: 07 Dec 2019
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Short summary
Decision trees have become a widely adapted tool for mapping soil properties in geographic space. However, it is problematic to implement geographic relationships in the models. We present a method, which uses coordinates along several axes tilted at oblique angles in the models. We test this method for an agricultural field in Denmark. The results show that the new method is as accurate as other proposed alternatives, has a computational advantage and is flexible and interpretable.
Decision trees have become a widely adapted tool for mapping soil properties in geographic...
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