Deterministic potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) growth models hardly rely on driving seasonal field variables that directly characterize spatial variation of plant growth. For example, the SUBSTOR model computes the leaf area index (LAI) as an auxiliary variable from meteorological conditions and soil properties. Empirical models may account for seasonal LAI functions and accurately predict potato yield. The objective was to evaluate multiple linear regression (MLR) and neural networks (NN) as predictive models of potato yield. Using data from several replicated on-farm experiments conducted over 3 years, model performance was evaluated for their capacity to forecast tuber yields 9, 10 and 11 weeks before harvest compared to SUBSTOR. A 3-input NN using LAI functions and cumulative rainfall yielded the most accurate estimations and forecasts of tuber yields. This NN showed that tuber yield of contrasting zones was mostly a function of meteorological conditions prevailing during the first 5–8 weeks after planting. Subsequent development of tubers was essentially controlled by biomass allocation to tubers. The NN models were more coherent than MLR and SUBSTOR for two reasons: (1) the use of seasonal LAI directly as input rather than computed as an auxiliary variable and (2) the non-linearity of the modeling process resulting in more accurate estimation of the temporal discontinuities of potato tuber growth. This model showed potential for application in precision agriculture by accounting for temporal and spatial real-time climatic and crop data.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: May 22, 2011
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