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Nutrient Management Zones for Citrus Based on Variation in Soil Properties and Tree Performance

Abstract

Site-specific soil management can improve profitability and environmental protection of citrus groves having large spatial variation in soil and tree characteristics. The objectives of this study were to identify soil factors causing tree performance decline in a variable citrus grove, and to develop soil-specific management zones based on easily measured soil/tree parameters for variable rate applications of appropriate soil amendments. Selected soil properties at six profile depths (0–1.5 m), water table depth, ground conductivity, leaf chlorophyll index, leaf nutrients and normalized difference vegetation index were compared at 50 control points in a highly variable 45-ha citrus grove. Regression analysis indicated that 90% of spatial variation in tree growth, assessed by NDVI, was explained by average soil profile properties of organic matter, color, near-infrared reflectance, soil solution electrical conductivity, ground conductivity and water table depth. Regression results also showed that soil samples at the surface only (0–150 mm) explained 78% of NDVI variability with NIR and DTPA-extractable Fe. Excessive available copper in low soil organic matter areas of the grove apparently induced Fe deficiency, causing chlorotic foliage disorders and stunted tree growth. The semivariograms of selected variables showed a strong spatial dependence with large ranges (varied from 230 m to 255 m). This grove can be divided into different management zones on the basis of easily measured NDVI and/or soil organic matter for variable rate application of dolomite and chelated iron to improve tree performance.

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Acknowledgements

Approved as Paper for publication as a Journal Series No. R-10000 of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. Mention of a trade name, proprietary product, or specific equipment does not constitute a guarantee or warranty by the University of Florida and does not imply approval of a product or exclusion of others that may be suitable.

Support for this research was received from FCPRAC grant # 032-02M Implementation of Precision Agriculture Technology to Improve Profitability of Florida Citrus and a donation from Cargill Fertilizer. The authors would also like to thank the assistance and contribution from Tom Pospichal, Kevin Hostler, and John Roegner during the field instrumentation and data collection phases of this project. The authors wish to thank Dr. James Syvertsen and Dr. Hong Li for their careful review of the manuscript.

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Qamar-uz-Zaman, Schumann, A.W. Nutrient Management Zones for Citrus Based on Variation in Soil Properties and Tree Performance. Precision Agric 7, 45–63 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11119-005-6789-z

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Keywords

  • Leaf nutrients
  • Management zones
  • NDVI
  • Soil organic matter