Unlike the situation for arable soils, virtually nothing is known about the spatial dependencies of soil properties in cool temperate grassland or about what the optimal sampling strategies ought to be for mapping soil nutrient distributions in such situations. The aim of this study was to investigate the spatial variability in ‘plant-available’ (soil) phosphorus and potassium in a grass silage field in Northern Ireland and devise ‘optimal’ sampling strategies for mapping their distributions. Soil samples were collected from the field at 25 m intervals in a regular rectangular grid to provide a database of soil properties. Different data combinations were subsequently abstracted from this database for comparison purposes, and ordinary kriging used to produce interpolated soil maps. Soil potassium displayed greater spatial variability than soil phosphorus. In keeping with this observation, the results of three separate statistical procedures demonstrated that the optimal sample size for estimating the ‘true’ population means was about twice as large for soil potassium as for soil phosphorus. Optimal sampling strategies, however, related not just to sample size but to sample combination and field shape as well.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 19, 2004
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