A fuzzy inference system (FIS) was developed to generate recommendations for spatially variable applications of N fertilizer. Key soil and plant properties were identified based on experiments with rates ranging from 0 to 250 kg N ha−1 conducted over three seasons (2005, 2006 and 2007) on fields with contrasting apparent soil electrical conductivity (ECa), elevation (ELE) and slope (SLP) features. Mid-season growth was assessed from remotely sensed imagery at 1-m2 resolution. Optimization of N rate by the FIS was defined against maximum corn growth in the weeks following in-season N application. The best mid-season growth was in areas of low ECa, high ELE and low SLP. Under favourable soil conditions, maximum mid-season growth was obtained with low in-season N. Responses to N fertilizer application were better where soil conditions were naturally unfavourable to growth. The N sufficiency index (NSI) was used to judge plant N status just prior to in-season N application. Expert knowledge was formalized as a set of rules involving ECa, ELE, SLP and NSI levels to deliver economically optimal N rates (EONRs). The resulting FIS was tested on an independent set of data (2008). A simulation revealed that using the FIS would have led to an average N saving of 41 kg N ha−1 compared to the recommended uniform rate of 170 kg N ha−1, without a loss of yield. The FIS therefore appears to be useful for incorporating expert knowledge into spatially variable N recommendations.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 28, 2010
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