Precision farming needs management rules to apply spatially differentiated treatments in agricultural fields. Digital soil mapping (DSM) tools, for example apparent soil electrical conductivity, corrected to 25°C (EC25), and digital elevation models, try to explain the spatial variation in soil type, soil properties (e.g. clay content), site and crop that are determined by landscape characteristics such as terrain, geology and geomorphology. We examined the use of EC25 maps to delineate management zones, and identified the main factors affecting the spatial pattern of EC25 at the regional scale in a study area in eastern Germany. Data of different types were compared: EC25 maps for 11 fields, soil properties measured in the laboratory, terrain attributes, geological maps and the description of 75 soil profiles. We identified the factors that influence EC25 in the presence of spatial autocorrelation and field-specific random effects with spatial linear mixed-effects models. The variation in EC25 could be explained to a large degree (R 2 of up to 61%). Primarily, soil organic matter and CaCO3, and secondarily clay and the presence of gleyic horizons were significantly related to EC25. Terrain attributes, however, had no significant effect on EC25. The geological map unit showed a significant relationship to EC25, and it was possible to determine the most important soil properties affecting EC25 by interpreting the geological maps. Including information on geology in precision agriculture could improve understanding of EC25 maps. The EC25 maps of fields should not be assumed to represent a map of clay content to form a basis for deriving management zones because other factors appeared to have a more important effect on EC25.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 21, 2008
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