Core soil sampling followed by laboratory analysis is the traditional method used to map soil pH prior to variable rate application (VRA) of lime on cropland. A recently developed automated soil sampling system capable of measuring soil pH on-the-go has significantly increased sampling resolution. However, adoption of such systems must be justified economically. This paper presents a method for assessing the economic benefit from automated mapping of soil pH prior to variable rate lime application. In this work, geostatistical, agronomic, and economic methods were used to generate a comprehensive numerical model for quantitative assessment of the net return over cost of liming for different lime management strategies. The strategies included: automated pH mapping, manual grid soil sampling, and whole field sampling used in combination with either variable or fixed rate liming. The model was demonstrated using a simulated field with known average pH and semivariogram model. The analysis showed the largest benefit ($6.13ha−1year−1) from using VRA with automated soil pH mapping versus VRA based on 1ha (2.5acres) manual grid point sampling for the selected simulated field conditions. A sensitivity analysis demonstrated that for a wide range of field conditions and crop prices, VRA plus automated mapping promises higher relative benefits than VRA based on either manual grid point or grid cell sampling.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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