Within-field variations in potential grain yield may be due to variations in plant available soil water. Different water holding capacities affect yield differently in different years depending on weather. By estimating plant-water availability in different weathers, scenarios could be created of how yield potential and thereby fertilizer demand may vary within fields. To test this, measured cereal grain yields from a dry, a wet and an intermediate year were compared with different soil moisture related variables in a Swedish arable field consisting of clayey and sandy areas. Soil water budget calculations based on weather data and maximum plant available water (PAW), estimated from soil type and rooting data, were used to assess drought. A reasonable correlation between estimated and measured soil moisture was achieved. In the dry year, drought days explained differences in yield between the clayey and the sandy soil, but yield was better explained directly by maximum PAW, elevation, clay content and soil electrical conductivity (SEC). Yield correlated significantly with SEC and elevation within the sandy soil in the dry year and within the clayey soil in the wet year, probably due to water and nitrogen limitation respectively. Dense SEC, elevation and yield data were therefore used to divide the field into management zones representing different risk levels for drought and waterlogging. These could be used as a decision support tool for site-specific N fertilization, since both drought and waterlogging affect N fertilization demand.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: May 18, 2005
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