Satellite Imagery to Map Topsoil Organic Carbon Content over Cultivated Areas: An Overview - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles (Review Article) Remote Sensing Year : 2022

Satellite Imagery to Map Topsoil Organic Carbon Content over Cultivated Areas: An Overview

Asa Gholizadeh
Youssef Fouad
Dominique Arrouays
Anne Richer-De-Forges


There is a need to update soil maps and monitor soil organic carbon (SOC) in the upper horizons or plough layer for enabling decision support and land management, while complying with several policies, especially those favoring soil carbon storage. This review paper is dedicated to the satellite-based spectral approaches for SOC assessment that have been achieved from several satellite sensors, study scales and geographical contexts in the past decade. Most approaches relying on pure spectral models have been carried out since 2019 and have dealt with temperate croplands in Europe, China and North America at the scale of small regions, of some hundreds of km2: dry combustion and wet oxidation were the analytical determination methods used for 50% and 35% of the satellite-derived SOC studies, for which measured topsoil SOC contents mainly referred to mineral soils, typically cambisols and luvisols and to a lesser extent, regosols, leptosols, stagnosols and chernozems, with annual cropping systems with a SOC value of ~15 g·kg−1 and a range of 30 g·kg−1 in median. Most satellite-derived SOC spectral prediction models used limited preprocessing and were based on bare soil pixel retrieval after Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) thresholding. About one third of these models used partial least squares regression (PLSR), while another third used random forest (RF), and the remaining included machine learning methods such as support vector machine (SVM). We did not find any studies either on deep learning methods or on all-performance evaluations and uncertainty analysis of spatial model predictions. Nevertheless, the literature examined here identifies satellite-based spectral information, especially derived under bare soil conditions, as an interesting approach that deserves further investigations. Future research includes considering the simultaneous analysis of imagery acquired at several dates i.e., temporal mosaicking, testing the influence of possible disturbing factors and mitigating their effects fusing mixed models incorporating non-spectral ancillary information.


Earth Sciences

Dates and versions

hal-03699094 , version 1 (20-06-2022)



Emmanuelle Vaudour, Asa Gholizadeh, Fabio Castaldi, Mohammadmehdi Saberioon, Luboš Borůvka, et al.. Satellite Imagery to Map Topsoil Organic Carbon Content over Cultivated Areas: An Overview. Remote Sensing, 2022, 14 (12), pp.2917. ⟨10.3390/rs14122917⟩. ⟨hal-03699094⟩
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