Microbiological indicators of soil quality predicted via proximal and remote sensing

Anita Fernanda dos Santos Teixeira, Sérgio Henrique Godinho Silva, David C. Weindorf, Somsubhra Chakraborty, Teotônio Soares de Carvalho, Aline Oliveira Silva, Amanda Azarias Guimarães, Fatima Maria de Souza Moreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This work sought to predict soil microbiological attributes based on soil fertility and texture, elemental contents determined by portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and terrain attribute data with and without addition of season (dry or rainy) and phytophysiognomy as auxiliary predictors. Soil samples were collected in both seasons in four phytophysiognomies. Analyses for prediction of basal soil respiration, microbial biomass carbon, metabolic quotient, and microbial quotient were performed. Terrain attributes, total elemental concentrations obtained by portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, soil fertility and texture as well as phytophysiognomy and season were used as predictor variables. Prediction models were created via conditional random forest algorithm and validated with leave-one-out cross-validation through coefficient of determination (R2), root mean square error, mean absolute error and ratio percent deviation. The best results were delivered when phytophysiognomy and season were included as predictors. Metabolic quotient, microbial quotient, microbial biomass carbon and basal soil respiration achieved the best prediction using only soil fertility and texture data (R2 = 0.79, 0.66, 0.65, 0.91, respectively). Predictions of basal soil respiration and metabolic quotient using only terrain data achieved R2 values of 0.91 and 0.73, respectively. Elemental concentrations determined by portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry reasonably predicted two microbiological attributes. It is possible to adequately predict these four microbiological attributes both locally and spatially through terrain and soil properties data. We encourage further investigations on prediction of these and other microbiological attributes under different environmental conditions and at shorter spatial and temporal scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103315
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Cforest
  • Metabolic quotient
  • Microbial biomass carbon
  • Prediction models
  • Soil basal respiration
  • Soil microbiology


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