Characterizing the spatial variability of nutrients facilitates precision soil sampling. Questions exist regarding the best technique for directed soil sampling based on a priori knowledge of soil and crop patterns. The objective of this study was to evaluate zone delineation techniques for Alabama grain fields to determine which method best minimized the soil test variability. Site one (25.8 ha) and site three (20.0 ha) were located in the Tennessee Valley region, and site two (24.2 ha) was located in the Coastal Plain region of Alabama. Tennessee Valley soils ranged from well drained Rhodic and Typic Paleudults to somewhat poorly drained Aquic Paleudults and Fluventic Dystrudepts. Coastal Plain soils ranged from coarse-loamy Rhodic Kandiudults to loamy Arenic Kandiudults. Soils were sampled by grid soil sampling methods (grid sizes of 0.40 ha and 1 ha) consisting of: (1) twenty composited cores collected randomly throughout each grid (grid-cell sampling) and, (2) six composited cores collected randomly from a ∼3×3m area at the center of each grid (grid-point sampling). Zones were established from (1) an Order 1 Soil Survey, (2) corn (Zea mays L.) yield maps, and (3) airborne remote sensing images. All soil properties were moderately to strongly spatially dependent as per semivariogram analyses. Differences in grid-point and grid-cell soil test values suggested grid-point sampling does not accurately represent grid values. Zones created by soil survey, yield data, and remote sensing images displayed lower coefficient of variations (%CV) for soil test values than overall field values, suggesting these techniques group soil test variability. However, few differences were observed between the three zone delineation techniques. Results suggest directed sampling using zone delineation techniques outlined in this paper would result in more efficient soil sampling for these Alabama grain fields.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 27, 2004
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