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Evaluation of Ensemble Machine Learning for Geospatial Prediction of Soil Iron in Croatia

Dorijan Radočaj, Mladen Jurišić, Nedim Tuno, Admir Mulahusić scientific paper)


Soil fertility is pivotal for agricultural productivity, and iron (Fe) is a critical micro- nutrient  essential  for a successful  crop  development.  This study investigates  a potential of ensemble machine-learning methods in geospatial prediction of soil Fe in Croatia. Using a dataset of 686 soil samples, three individual machine-learning methods, including the extreme gradient boosting (XGB), support vector machine (SVM), and Cubist, as well as their ensemble, were evaluated for the soil Fe predi- ction. The ensemble method outperformed the individual models, exhibiting a higher prediction accuracy expressed by the coefficient of determination (R2 = 0.578), with a lower root-mean-square error (RMSE = 0.837) and the mean absolute error (MAE = 0.550). The soil clay content emerged as the most influential predictor, followed by the sand content, pH values, and select bioclimatic variables.  This study’s results demonstrate the effectiveness of ensemble machine learning in an accurate predicti- on of soil Fe content and contribute to an informed decision-making in sustainable agricultural  land-use planning and management.  By including the complementary machine-learning methods into an ensemble with the representative environmental covariates, a geospatial prediction aids to a reliable comprehension of soil proper- ties and their spatial variability.

Correspondent author:
Dorijan Radočaj, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences Osijek, Vladimira Preloga 1, 31000 Osijek, Croatia,