Arsenic contamination in soil and water is of great concern in many parts of the world. In South and South-East Asia, millions of people are affected by high arsenic exposure due to consumption of arsenic-contaminated rice, which has led to an international health crisis. Arsenic is often supplied through water from shallow well used for irrigation of rice. Reduced soil conditions present in flooded rice fields enable the arsenic to be converted to a form that is easily taken-up by the plants. Arsenic levels causing injury to the rice plant may be detectable via remote-sensing methods. Hyperspectral image data can be processed to detect materials that may not typically be distinguished by multispectral remote sensing data, while plant canopy biophysical/ chemical properties can also more accurately be estimated via hyperspectral data, relative to multispectral data, which is useful for stress detection. Of particular importance to South Asia is the fact that rice has higher arsenic concentrations than other staple food crops because of its higher availability under the reduced soil condition of the rice paddy. Among common food products in the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration found that rice was second only to seafood in total arsenic bioavailability. This study will explore the feasibility for rapidly monitoring arsenic (As) contamination in agricultural soils with the reflectance spectra of agricultural plants with special emphasis on rice crops. Accurate prediction of Arsenic concentration is important for food safety and precision farming. The present study will be aimed at mapping the arsenic presence, the contour of its concentration and depth of its presence in West Bengal, India. For the purpose, Geographical Information System and Satellite Image Processing are used to identify, locate, map and analyze the existing data on the state for showing the hazard zones. The satellite images helps in identifying the various land use pattern and provided clue to identification of patterns and source with respect to its geological setup. Though arsenic mapping requires a broad zonal understanding of the whole dynamics to achieve a strategic mapping and remediation. Thus, Geomatics acts as a decision support tool to analyse the various data source for mapping the risk zone map of the area. Canopy reflectance spectra will be collected from rice using spectrometer, which has a spectral range between 350– 2500 nm with a sampling interval. The spectrometer field of view will be set to 25° with a 1 m sensor height above rice canopies. All measurements will performed on clear shiny days. A white Spectral on reference panel will be used under the same illumination conditions to calculate relative reflectance spectra by dividing leaf radiance by reference radiance for each wavelength. Ten scans will measured at each point, and averaged to produce a single spectrum. The main steps will be as follows: 1) Data collection 2) Hyperspectral reflectance measurement 3) Leaves and soils sampling 4) Laboratory spectrum measurement 5) Soil Arsenic content measurement 6) Soil Arsenic content prediction using Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR) 7) Soil Arsenic content prediction using Normalized Difference Spectral Index (NDSI) 8) Soil Arsenic content prediction using Adaptive Neural Fuzzy Inference system (ANFIS) modelling 9) Prediction results from Random forests method. Although, there is a need for a routine assessment of arsenic on a regular basis. Apart from that, the remediation or treatment measures in the affected areas are of major concern at this point. For this, governmental organizations and research and international organizations along with the participation of the people are required considering the contemporary scenario.
To apply, please follow the link to the Heriot Watt website where you will find the funded opportunities page.
The scholarship will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £15,009 for the 36 month duration of the project. It is available to applicants from the UK, EU and overseas.