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Book: Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Agriculture
Published by: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America



  1.  p. i-xxiii
    Agronomy Monograph 44.
    Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Agriculture

    Craig A. Roberts, Jerry Workman Jr. and James B. Reeves III (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-236-8

    unlockOPEN ACCESS

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Front Matter


Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Agriculture is dedicated to Phil Williams (right) and Karl Norris (left). Collectively, they made this technology usable, especially in agricultural applications. Individually, each has his own list of contributions and achievements.


Karl Norris was the first to demonstrate that NIR spectral data could be measured on samples such as ground grains. His real contribution was the incorporation of computers to interpret data that could predict composition. This contribution, while it appears intuitive in our time, was innovative 40 years ago, long before desktop computers existed. The coupling of computers with spectrophotometers for statistical interpretation of spectra has facilitated the subdiscipline now known as chemometrics. In addition to working with small grains, Norris worked with other agricultural products. He collaborated with coworkers at the Instrumentation Research Laboratory at the USDA, Beltsville, MD to predict moisture in soybean and fat content in milk. This work involved both design of instruments operating in the NIR region and development of software to process the data. Because of this work, as well as the applied collaboration with Williams, many people consider Karl Norris the unofficial father of modern NIR spectroscopy.

Phil Williams was the applied equivalent of Norris. He was first ever to apply NIR technology to large-scale, real-world testing of a commercial commodity. In his search for a method rapid enough to test railway carloads of wheat at the time of unloading, Williams acquired one of the first NIR instruments ever built. His commitment to analytical precision, supported by the engineers of what was then the Neotec Corporation, resulted in replacement of the traditional Kjeldahl method by an automated NIR system for the protein segregation program. Within only four years, all testing—about 600,000 samples per year—was carried out at terminal elevators. Williams' subsequent work has been aimed at resolving problems associated with application of NIR technology to grain handling, with particular emphasis on electronic grading. In the field of plant breeding, Williams has concentrated on development of calibration models for the prediction of functionality, as well as composition. Over the past 32 years his research on evaluation of new instruments has been of significant benefit to several instrument manufacturing companies.

Though Williams and Norris have both retired from their original positions, they remain active in the field of NIR spectroscopy. They continue to help jump-start new analytical laboratories, mentor young spectroscopists, and field questions from anyone searching for an answer. As a result of their substantial contributions, they have both received prestigious awards. Today, Williams and Norris are household names, often mentioned together because of their synergistic effect in spawning, then documenting, a growing technology.


Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a remarkably versatile and robust analytical methodology. Its nondestructive nature, fast analysis time, and relative ease of use has led to the development of many applications in a broad array of agricultural fields. The evolution and widespread application of NIR spectroscopy in the past several decades is one of the great success stories in analytical technology development. From the humble beginnings of fixed-filter instruments and simple calibrations to the scanning monochromators and advanced chemometrics of today, the technology has undergone an astonishing transformation. Key to this achievement was the rapid development of the microprocessor and the advanced analytical software it made possible. Today, NIR spectroscopy is widely used to detect and quantify an almost unending list of analytes in a host of agricultural and food products.

This volume provides monographic coverage of the use of NIR spectroscopy in agriculture. It begins with a section on fundamental principles of NIR spectroscopy, including chapters on instrumentation and sample preparation. This is followed by a comprehensive section on advanced chemometrics for qualitative and quantitative NIR analysis. The remaining three sections describe NIR applications for analysis of food crops, processed foods, and other agricultural products and byproducts. The chapters are authored by a who's who list of the leading experts in the design, calibration, and application of NIR spectroscopy. The book is truly international in scope with contributing authors from around the world.

Our thanks to the feasibility committee, editors, authors, reviewers, and staff that worked diligently to make this outstanding volume available. They have created an exceptional reference that will serve as a leading source and definitive authority on NIR spectroscopy in agriculture for many years to come.


President Crop Science Society of America


President American Society of Agronomy


President Soil Science Society of America


Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is fast becoming a preferred method of routine analysis, especially in agriculture. Its growing popularity is due to its accuracy and efficiency of process. As an empirical procedure, NIR spectroscopy differs from standard spectroscopy; it does not require a full understanding of the physical relationships between spectral data and chemical functional groups. Instead, NIR spectroscopy is based on mathematical relationships between spectra and reference data. Once a mathematical relationship is established, the NIR spectrophotometer collects spectra and predicts analysis, thereby expediting rapid, large-scale processing of samples. The repeatability and accuracy of predicted data are monitored through an array of blind validation protocols.

Because of its empirical approach and indirect analysis, NIR spectroscopy sometimes attracts criticism. In many ways, it is a technology comparable to crypt-analysis during World War II—it “had an aura of sorcery, but the basis was highly scientific.”1 Criticism of NIR spectroscopy as a bench-top analytical tool is most common among theoretical researchers, who strain to understand the same principles they readily accept in remote sensing. Among practitioners, however, criticism is rare. In fact, practitioners have come to appreciate the inherent advantages of NIR spectroscopy, such as nondestructive sampling, reduced dependence on chemical reagents, and simultaneous quantification of constituents.

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Agriculture highlights the practical use of NIR technology during its first forty years in international agriculture. The book was requested by a feasibility committee of the American Society of Agronomy, who commissioned the work and cosponsored it with the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America.

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Agriculture is organized into five sections. The first two sections present the fundamentals of spectroscopy and chemometrics. These two sections were simplified as much as possible at the request of the editors because this book targets a broad scientific audience rather than a narrow group of spectroscopists and statisticians. The last three sections are applied and give this book a clear niche among other NIR publications. These applied sections detail the use of NIR analysis in crop production, food processing, and non-food agriculture. Chapters in the applied sections are generally comprehensive, and they include standardized tables of applications for ease of reference.

The editors would like to express their appreciation to all authors, reviewers, and editors of these chapters, as well as the editors of ASA, CSSA, and SSSA for their commitment and hard work in producing this book. We thank the Managing Editor, Lisa Al-Amoodi. We would also like to thank certain colleagues who helped us in the early stages of this work. Specifically, we are grateful to Ian Murray and Chris Scotter, who helped us identify international authors with various specializations in NIR application. We owe a special word of gratitude to authors Roberto Giangiacomo, Tiziana Cattaneo, Stephen Delwiche, Trish Townsend, and Michael Hammersley; these authors submitted their chapters early in the process and provided their colleagues with excellent examples of content and composition. Finally, we are grateful to Jerry Nelson, who offered a steady stream of reliable advice through the entire publication process.

We hope this work will benefit all those interested in efficient analysis of agricultural products.


University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri


Argose Inc. Waltham, Massachusetts


USDA-ARS Beltsville, Maryland


Judy A. Abbott USDA-ARS, Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory, BARC-West, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
John Antoniszyn Canadian Grain Commission, Grain Research Laboratory, 1404 - 303 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3G8, Canada
Eyal Ben-Dor Remote Sensing/GIS Laboratory, Dep. of Geography, Tel-Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Ramat Aviv, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel
Tiziana M.P. Cattaneo Istituto Sperimentale Lattiero Caseario, Via Lombardo, 11, 26900 Lodi, Italy
Ian Cowe 37 Broughton Way, Osbaldwick, York YO10 3BG, UK
Daniel Cozzolino The Australian Wine Research Inst., Waite Road, Urrbrae, P.O. Box 197, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; formerly, INIA La Estanzuela, Animal Nutrition Laboratory, Colonia, Uruguay
Bob Dambergs The Australian Wine Research Inst., Waite Road, Urrbrae, P.O. Box 197, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia
Stephen R. Delwiche USDA-ARS, Instrumentation & Sensing Laboratory, Bldg. 303, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore, Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA
Gerard Downey Teagasc, The National Food Center, Astown, Dublin 15, Republic of Ireland
James Duckworth Galactic Industries Corp., 395 Main Street, Salem, NH 03079, USA
Daniel J. Dyer Renessen, LLC, 3000 Lakeside Drive, Suite 300S, Bannockburn, IL 60015, USA
Michael Esler The Australian Wine Research Inst., Waite Road, Urrbrae, P.O. Box 197, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; currently: Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, Sevres, France
Peter Flinn Agriculture Victoria, Pastoral & Veterinary Institute, Private Bag 105, Hamilton, Victoria 3300, Australia
Juan García-Olmo ETSIAM, University of Cordoba, Apdo. 3048, 14080 Cordoba, Spain
Ana Garrido-Varo ETSIAM, University of Cordoba, Apdo. 3048, 14080 Cordoba, Spain
Roberto Giangiacomo Istituto Sperimentale Lattiero Caseario, Via Lombardo, 11, 26900 Lodi, Italy
Mark Gishen The Australian Wine Research Inst., Waite Road, Urrbrae, P.O. Box 197, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia
Michael Hammersley 2/19d Dyers Pass Road, Cashmere, Christchurch 2, New Zealand
Kjell Ivar Hildrum MATFORSK, Osloveien 1, N-1432 Ås, Norway
Sumio Kawano National Food Research Institute, 2-1-12 Kannondai, Tsukuba 305-8642, Japan
Sandra E. Kays USDA-ARS, Quality Assessment Research Unit, Richard B. Russell Agric. Research Center, P.O. Box 5677, Athens, GA 30604-5677, USA
Richard Kramer Applied Chemometrics, 77 Beach Street, Sharon, MA 02067, USA
Diane F. Malley PDK Projects, Inc., 365 Wildwood Park, Winnipeg, MB R3T 0E7, Canada
Howard Mark Mark Electronics, 21 Terrace Avenue, Suffern, NY 10901, USA
Paul D. Martin #2-12 McGillivray Place, Winnipeg, MB R3T 1N4, Canada
Samuel J. Millar Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6LD, UK
Joseph G. Montalvo, Jr. USDA-ARS Southern Regional Res Ctr, 1100 Robert E. Lee Boulevard, Bldg. 001, Rm. 3025, New Orleans, LA 70179-0687, USA
W.L. Cap Munday Sydco Technical Sales, 1706 Justin Drive, Gambrills, MD 21054, USA
Ian Murray SAC, Ferguson Bldg., Craibstone Estate, Bucksburn, Aberdeen AB21 9YA, Scotland
Maria Dolores Pérez-Marín ETSIAM, University of Cordoba, Apdo. 3048, 14080 Cordoba, Spain
Craig A. Roberts Agronomy Dep., 214 Waters Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
James B. Reeves III USDA-ARS, Animal & Natural Resources Institute, BARC-East, Bldg. 306, Rm. 101, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
Laurence Schimleck D.B. Warneil School of Forest Resources, The University of Georgia, 4-330, Athens, GA, 30602-2152, USA
Hartwig Schulz Federal Centre for Breeding Research on Cultivated Plants, Institute of Plant Analysis, 22/23, D-06484 Quedlinburg, Germany
Christopher N.G. Scotter Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6LD, UK
Reiji Sekiguchi Japan Food Research Laboratory, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0062, Japan
John Shenk Infrasoft International, 109 Sellers Lane, Port Matilda, PA 16870, USA
David C. Slaughter Biological & Agric. Engineering, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
Jerry Stuth Dep. of RLEM, Animal Industries Bldg., Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2126, USA
Trisha Townsend 74 Greendale Avenue, Avonhead, Christchurch 8004, New Zealand
Masami Ueno University of the Ruykyus, Okinawa 903 -0213, Japan
Terri Von Hoven USDA-ARS Southern Regional Res Ctr, 1100 Robert E. Lee Boulevard, 001, Rm. 3025, New Orleans, LA 70179-0687, USA
Mark Westerhaus Infrasoft International, 109 Sellers Lane, Port Matilda, PA 16870, USA
Phil Williams PDK Grain, 365 Wildwood Park, Winnipeg, MB R3T 0E7, Canada
Jerry Workman, Jr. Argose Inc., 230 Second Avenue, Waltham, MA 02451, USA
Charles M. Zapf McCormick & Company, Inc., Technical Center, 202 Wight Avenue, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1066, USA



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