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A Multiscale Cost–Benefit Analysis of Digital Soil Mapping Methods for Sustainable Land Management

Radočaj, Dorijan; Jurišić, Mladen; Antonić, Oleg; Šiljeg, Ante; Cukrov, Neven; Rapčan, Irena; Plaščak, Ivan; Gašparović, Mateo (2022) A Multiscale Cost–Benefit Analysis of Digital Soil Mapping Methods for Sustainable Land Management. Sustainability, 14 (19). ISSN 2071-1050

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With the emergence of machine learning methods during the past decade, alternatives to conventional geostatistical methods for soil mapping are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. To provide a complete overview of their performance, this study performed cost–benefit analysis of four soil mapping methods based on five criteria: accuracy, processing time, robustness, scalability and applicability. The evaluated methods were ordinary kriging (OK), regression kriging (RK), random forest (RF) and ensemble machine learning (EML) for the prediction of total soil carbon and nitrogen. The results of these mechanisms were objectively standardized using the linear scaling method, and their relative importance was quantified using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). EML resulted in the highest cost–benefit score of the tested methods, with maximum values of accuracy, robustness and scalability, achieving a 55.6% higher score than the second-ranked RF method. The two geostatistical methods ranked last in the cost–benefit analysis. Despite that, OK could retain its place as the most frequent method for soil mapping in recent studies due to its widespread, user-friendly implementation in GIS software and its univariate character. Further improvement of machine learning methods with regards to computational efficiency could additionally improve their cost–benefit advantage and establish them as the universal standard for soil mapping.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: kriging; random forest; analytic hierarchy process (AHP); environmental covariates; prediction accuracy; land management
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences > Environmental Science
BIOTECHNICAL SCIENCES > Interdisciplinary Technical Sciences
Divisions: Division for Marine and Enviromental Research
Depositing User: Diana Mikoč Radešić
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2024 14:14
DOI: 10.3390/su141912170

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