Soil organic carbon (SOC) plays a vital role in determining the susceptibility to land degradation. The recommended procedure for the recovery of the characteristic poor soils of the Southern region of Portugal is the installation of grazed permanent pastures and increase of soil fertility. The objectives of this study were: (i) to identify the spatial and temporal patterns of soil nutrients at four points in time over a 10-year period in a perennial pastureland; (ii) to test new tools for survey of the spatial variability of soil nutrients; (iii) to evaluate the potential for differential organic management. A 6 ha permanent bio-diverse pasture field, grazed by sheep and improved by annual application of super phosphate fertilizer, was installed on a shallow soil in Mediterranean conditions. Spatial variability and temporal stability of topsoil macronutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium), SOC and pH were measured. The results indicate that SOC and pH have great potential for implementing differential management. In the case of SOC, the management classes map shows that over 80 % of the area has temporal stability, while more than 50 % of the area has low levels of SOC (<10 g kg−1), justifying the potential for differential application of C-rich organic soil amendments. The geospatial measurements of apparent soil electrical conductivity (ECa) and NDVI index showed significant correlation between these parameters and soil properties, revealing the potential of these tools for producing detailed soil maps, decisive for understanding the changes in soil properties under sustainable management systems.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 30, 2015
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