Using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Stacked Regression for the Simultaneous Determination of Fresh Cattle and Poultry Manure Chemical Properties

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Excessive use of animal manure as fertilizers can lead to pollution through the introduction of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other mineral compounds to the environment. Wet chemical analytical methods are traditionally used to determine the precise chemical composition of manure to manage the application of animal waste to the soil. However, such methods require significant resources to carry out the processes. Affordable, rapid, and accurate methods of analyses of various chemical components present in animal manure, therefore, are valuable in managing soil and mitigating water pollution. In this study, a stacked regression ensemble approach using near-infrared spectroscopy was developed to simultaneously determine the amount of dry matter, total ammonium nitrogen, total nitrogen, phosphorus pentoxide, calcium oxide, magnesium oxide, and potassium oxide contents in both cattle and poultry manure collected from livestock production areas in France and Reunion Island. The performance of the stacked regression, an ensemble learning algorithm that is formed by collating the well-performing models for prediction was then compared with that of various other machine learning techniques, including support vector regression (linear, polynomial, and radial), least absolute shrinkage and selection operator, ridge regression, elastic net, partial least squares, random forests, recursive partitioning and regression trees, and boosted trees. Results show that stack regression performed optimally well in predicting the seven abovementioned chemical constituents in the testing set and may provide an alternative to the traditional partial least squares method for a more accurate and simultaneous method in determining the chemical properties of animal manure.