This chapter provides a review on the state of art of the use of the visible near-infrared (vis-NIR) spectroscopy technique to determine mineral nutrients, organic compounds, and other physical and chemical characteristics in samples from agricultural systems—such as plant tissues, soils, fruits, cocomposted sewage sludge and wastes, cereals, and forage and silage. Currently, all this information is needed to be able to carry out the appropriate fertilization of crops, to handle agricultural soils, determine the organoleptic characteristics of fruit and vegetable products, discover the characteristics of the various substrates obtained in composting processes, and characterize byproducts from the industrial sector. All this needs a large number of samples that must be analyzed; this is a time-consuming work, leading to high economic costs and, obviously, having a negative environmental impact owing to the production of noxious chemicals during the analyses. Therefore, the development of a fast, environmentally friendly, and cheaper method of analysis like vis-NIR is highly desirable. Our intention here is to introduce the main fundamentals of infrared reflectance spectroscopy, and to show that procedures like calibration and validation of data from vis-NIR spectra must be performed, and describe the parameters most commonly measured in the agricultural sector.
Part of the book: Developments in Near-Infrared Spectroscopy