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Comparison Of Statistical Regression And Data-mining Techniques In Estimating Soil Water Retention Of Tropical Delta Soils.

Phuong Minh Nguyen, A. Haghverdi, J. D. Pue, Y. Botula, K. Le, W. Waegeman, W. Cornelis
Published 2017 · Engineering

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Although a great number of studies have been devoted to develop and evaluate pedotransfer functions (PTFs), several questions still are to be addressed, particularly pertaining to tropical delta soils which received very little attention. One such question relates to the optimal structural dependency between basic soil properties and soil water retention characteristics (SWRC), which could be formulated by various regression methods. It is hypothesised that data mining techniques provide more accurate SWRC-PTFs than statistical linear regression. However, data-mining techniques are often proven as highly data-demanding techniques. The aim of this study was, therefore, to verify that hypothesis for a limited data set of tropical delta soils by comparing the predictive capabilities of point PTFs and pseudo-continuous (PC) PTFs developed by Multiple Linear Regression (MLR), Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), Support Vector Machine for Regression (SVR), and k-Nearest Neighbours (kNN) methods. The results show that point-PTFs derived from data-mining techniques (i.e. ANN, SVR, kNN) offer accurate and reliable estimation of soil water content at several matric potentials. In case of PC-PTFs, ANN and kNN models outperformed SVR and MLR PTFs in validation phase (RMSE of ANN and kNN PTFs were around 0.05 m3 m−3, while those of SVR PTFs and MLR PTFs rose up to 0.068 and 0.066 m3 m−3). Our findings confirm the superiority of data-mining approaches in modelling the complex system of soil and water, even when a limited data set is available. The non-parametric kNN method, though being constrained in estimating SWRC in pseudo-continuous manner, has great benefits due to its flexibility, simplicity, accuracy and capacity to append new observations.
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