I would like to know what are the visual indicators that can be used to determining the quality of the soil and plants by looking at the in-situ photos?

Can the following quality indicators be determined by visual check such that a decision making can be done?

  • Approximate Soil Salinity
  • Soil pH
  • Soil Moisture
  • Soil Content (red indicates presence of iron etc)

For Plants

  • Presence of weeds
  • Presence of bug infestation (perhaps different visual patterns to identify kind of infestation)
  • Plant Health (rigid looking vs hanging etc)

The above is whats there in the top of my head, can this list be expanded and upto what degree the quality indicators can be relied upon?

Note: Soil salinity might not be easily determined if the excess salt doesn't precipitate (visible white layer on the soil can help determine the excess of salt hence its not a good visual quality indicator for most of the time.

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    $\begingroup$ The type of plants, and their health helps decide what the soil is like, and whether overgrazing has occurred. Sorry no refs yet $\endgroup$ Sep 21, 2020 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ @PolypipeWrangler Good point. But perhaps when we plant a seed, we might not have a visual evidence from the plant itself so a visual inspection of soil itself might be required. I am looking to see if algorithms for computer vision could be extended to assist and encourage planting. $\endgroup$
    – gfdsal
    Sep 21, 2020 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


There are numerous visual indicators for various type of plants that determine plant health. For example the rigidity of the leaves can help you determine that enough water is supplied to the plant (1). Now you can also determine the leaf shape and detect for presence of disease (2), pests (3), and plant health in general (4). This research however mentions no correlation between lamina shape and area so you would need wiser methods for your corrlelation methodology(5). Moreover, you can look at the fruit shape/sizes to determine if plants have been supplied enough nutrients(6). Another study which is worth mentioning is using chlorophyl to determine plant fitness but this cant be done insitu and you would need lab analysis (7)

All these are visual indicators for the plants itself. As far as soil is concerned is it more challenging because you can make soil and compost using various materials and methods so there is no general approach that can be used to determine the quality. So if soils is your primary concern then as @PolypipeWrangler mentioned looking at the plant fitness can help you determine soil quality.


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