This study evaluated whether the accuracy of soil organic carbon measurement by laboratory hyperspectral imaging can match that of standard point spectroscopy operating in the visible–near infrared. Hyperspectral imaging allows a greater amount of spectral information to be collected from the soil sample compared to standard spectroscopy, accounting for greater sample representation. A total of 375 representative Irish soils were scanned by two-point spectrometers (a Foss NIR Systems 6500 labelled S-1 and a Varian FT-IR 3100 labelled S-2) and two laboratory hyperspectral imaging systems (two push broom line-scanning hyperspectral imaging systems manufactured by DV optics and Spectral Imaging Ltd, respectively, labelled S-3 and S-4). The objectives were (a) to compare the predictive ability of spectral datasets for soil organic carbon prediction for each instrument evaluated and (b) to assess the impact of imposing a common wavelength range and spectral resolution on soil organic carbon model accuracy. These objectives examined the predictive ability of spectral datasets for soil organic carbon prediction based on optimal settings of each instrument in (a) and introduced a constraint in wavelength range and spectral resolution to achieve common settings for instruments in (b). Based on optimal settings for each instrument, the deviation (root-mean square error of prediction) from the best fit line between laboratory measured and predicted soil organic carbon, ranked the instruments as S-1 (26.3 g kg−1) < S-2 (29.4 g kg−1) < S-3 (34.3 g kg−1) < S-4 (41.1 g kg−1). The S-1 model outperformed in all partial least squares regression performance indicators, and across all spectral ranges, and produced the most favourable outcomes in means testing, variance testing and identification of significant variables. It is assumed that a larger wavelength range produced more accurate soil organic carbon predictions for S-1 and S-2. Under common instrument settings, the prediction accuracy for S-3 that was almost equal to S-1. It is concluded that under standard operating procedures, greater soil sample representation captured by hyperspectral imaging can equal the quality of the spectra from point spectroscopy. This result is important for the development of laboratory hyperspectral imaging for soil image analysis.
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