The average area of agricultural fields in Flanders (Belgium) is about 1.7 ha, being very small compared to fields where precision agriculture is currently applied. Therefore this paper addresses the question whether the within-field variation of soil properties in such fields is structured enough to motivate precision agriculture. To answer this question, 9 soil properties determined on 380 soil samples located in 77 agricultural fields situated in the 5 most dominant pedoscapes of Flanders were used to analyze their spatial variation over intervals ranging from 5 to 900 m. The data set was subjected to a principal component analysis which identified two principal components (PCs) explaining more than 78% of the total variance. The first PC represented the chemical soil properties and the second the physical and biological properties. A variogram analysis of the scores on these two PCs showed that the micro-scale and random variation dominated (82%) the within-field variability of the first PC. The within-field variability of the second PC was dominantly spatially structured (only 37% micro-scale and random variation). Therefore, it was concluded that mainly for soil physical and biological properties (like soil textural fractions and organic matter), the average within-field variation in the small fields of the investigated landscapes is structured enough to allow precision agriculture.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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