Precision Agriculture

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 139–149

Evaluation of an on-the-go technology for soil pH mapping

  • Viacheslav I. Adamchuk
  • Eric D. Lund
  • Todd M. Reed
  • Richard B. Ferguson


Since conventional sampling and laboratory soil analysis do not provide a cost effective capability for obtaining geo-referenced measurements with adequate frequency, different on-the-go sensing techniques have been attempted. One such recently commercialized sensing system combines mapping of soil electrical conductivity and pH. The concept of direct measurement of soil pH has allowed for a substantial increase in measurement density. In this publication, soil pH maps, developed using on-the-go technology and obtained for eight production fields in six US states, were compared with corresponding maps derived from grid sampling. It was shown that with certain field conditions, on-the-go mapping can significantly increase the accuracy of soil pH maps and therefore increase the potential profitability of variable rate liming. However, in many instances, these on-the-go measurements need to be calibrated to account for a field-specific bias. After calibration, the overall error estimate for soil pH maps produced using on-the-go measurements was less than 0.3 pH, while non-calibrated on-the-go and conventional field average and grid-sampling maps produced errors greater than 0.4 pH.


On-the-go mapping Soil pH Ion-selective electrode 


  1. Adamchuk VI, Morgan MT, Ess DR (1999) An automated sampling system for measuring soil pH. Trans ASAE 42(4):885–891Google Scholar
  2. Adamchuk VI, Lund E, Sethuramasamyraja B, Morgan MT, Dobermann A (2005) Direct measurement of soil chemical properties on-the-go using ion selective electrodes. Comput Electron Agric 48(3):272–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bianchini AA, Mallarino AP (2002) Soil-sampling alternatives and variable-rate liming for a soybean-corn rotation. Agro J 94(6):1355–1366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Christy C, Collings KL, Drummond PD, Lund ED (2004) A mobile sensor platform for measurement of soil pH and buffering. Paper No. 041042, ASABE, St. Joseph, Michigan, USAGoogle Scholar
  5. Laslett GM, McBratney AB (1990) Further comparison of spatial methods for predicting soil pH. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54(6):553–1558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Loreto AB, Morgan MT (1996) Development of an automated system for field measurement of soil nitrate. Paper No. 961087, ASABE, St. Joseph, Michigan, USAGoogle Scholar
  7. McBride RA, Gordon AM, Shrive SC (1990) Estimating forest soil quality from terrain measurements of apparent electrical conductivity. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54(1):290–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McBratney AB, Mendonca Santos ML, Minasny B (2003) On digital soil mapping. Geoderma 117:3–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mulla DJ, McBratney AB (2000) Soil spatial variability. In: Sumner ME (ed) Handbook of soil science. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, pp A321–A352Google Scholar
  10. Thomas GW (1996) Soil pH and soil acidity. In: Bartels JM (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 3 chemical methods. SSSA-ASA, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, pp 475–490Google Scholar
  11. Viscarra Rossel RA, McBratney AB (1997) Preliminary experiments towards the evaluation of a suitable soil sensor for continuous ‘on-the-go’ field pH measurements. In: Stafford JV (ed) Precision agriculture ‘97. Proceedings of the 1st European conference on precision agriculture. BIOS Scientific Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp 493–502Google Scholar
  12. Viscarra Rossel RA, Gilbertson M, Thylen L, Hansen O, McVey S, McBratney AB (2005) Field measurements of soil pH and lime requirement using an on-the-go soil pH and lime requirement measurement system. In: Stafford J (ed) Precision agriculture ‘05: Proceedings of the 5th European conference on precision agriculture. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, The Netherlands, pp 511–520Google Scholar
  13. Webster R (2000) Is soil variation random? Geoderma 97:149–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Wollenhaupt NC, Mulla DJ, Gotway Crawford CA (1997) Soil sampling and interpolation techniques for mapping spatial variability of soil properties. In: Pierce FT, Sadler EJ (eds) The state of site-specific management for agriculture. ASA-CSSA-SSSA, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, pp 19–53Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viacheslav I. Adamchuk
    • 1
  • Eric D. Lund
    • 2
  • Todd M. Reed
    • 1
  • Richard B. Ferguson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological Systems EngineeringUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Veris Technologies, Inc.SalinaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Agronomy and HorticultureUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations