Compost Cation Exchange Capacity via Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (PXRF) Spectrometry

Bin Li, Somsubhra Chakraborty, Maria Fernanda Godoy Sosa, Nana Yaw O. Kusi, David C. Weindorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Compost is a valuable organic amendment which affords substantive fertility to soils where applied. A common component of compost fertility is cation exchange capacity (CEC), which has traditionally been determined via standard wet chemistry laboratory methods. This research utilized portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) spectrometry to evaluate 74 compost samples from the USA and Canada. PXRF elemental data were used for predicting compost CEC via random forest (RF) regression. Comparison between laboratory-determined vs. PXRF predicted CEC produced the following relationships: R 2 =0.90, RMSE = 5.41 meq 100 g −1 (model calibration) and R 2 =0.60, RMSE = 8.07 meq 100 g −1 (model validation). A key advantage of this technique is that the same data used for CEC prediction can also yield insight into other compost parameters of interest such as heavy metal content, plant essential nutrient content, salinity, and pH. Taken collectively, the PXRF approach can provide rapid, on-site analysis of compost which was previously not feasible with conventional methods. Our initial study has established the viability of PXRF for compost CEC determination, with further development on a wider array of feedstocks suggested for future study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalCompost Science and Utilization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


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