Spatial Analysis of Soil Fertility Parameters
Databases identifying spatial distributions of soil properties are needed to implement site-specific management practices. This study examined spatial patterns for nine soil chemical properties in two adjacent fields, one in a corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation with inorganic fertilizer and the other in a 5-yr corn-soybean-corn-oat (Avena sativa L.)-meadow rotation with organic nutrient sources. We established sampling grids in both fields and collected soil cores to a depth of 30 cm. Soil properties with strong spatial correlations (low nugget variance/total variance ratio) and the maximum distance to which those properties were correlated (range) differed for the two fields. Soil pH, exchangeable Ca, total organic C, and total N were strongly correlated and had range values greater than 182 m in the conventional field. Bray P and exchangeable Mg were strongly correlated with range values of less than 100 m within the other. Low nugget/total variance ratios and small range values for P and Mg suggest patchy distributions, probably from long-term animal manure and municipal sludge application. Since most variance was structural in the organic field, placing sampling points closer together would improve data precision. In contrast, a relatively coarse sampling grid with fewer sampling points spaced further apart appears adequate for the conventional field. To develop accurate sampling strategies for precision agriculture, long-term field management histories should be documented since the practices appear to affect both the properties that are strongly correlated and the range to which the correlation exists.
KeywordsVariance Ratio Inorganic Fertilizer Precision Agriculture Soil Chemical Property Sampling Grid
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