Precision agriculture (PA) offers opportunities for the development of new approaches to on-farm experimentation to assist farmers with site-specific management decisions. Traditional agricultural experiments are usually implemented in fields with the least possible soil heterogeneity under the assumption that responses to inputs and inherent variation of the soil are additive components of yield variation. However, because the soil in typical fields is not homogeneous, PA has much to offer. Farmers faced with variable conditions need to optimize their management to the variation over space and time on their farm, a problem that is not solved by conventional approaches to experimentation. New designs for on-farm experiments were developed in the 1990s for cereal production in which the whole field was used for the experiment rather than small plots. We explore the extension of this type of experiment to a vineyard in the Clare Valley of South Australia aiming to evaluate options to increase grape yield and vine vigour. Manually sampled indices of vine performance measured on georeferenced ‘target’ grapevines were analysed geostatistically. The major advantage of such an approach is that the spatial variation in response to experimental treatments can be examined. Linear models of coregionalization, pseudo cross-variograms and standardized ordinary cokriging are used to map treatment responses over the experimental area and also the differences between them. The results indicate that both treatment responses and the significance of differences between them are spatially variable. Thus, we conclude that whole-of-block on-farm trials are useful in vineyards.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 6, 2009
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