The nitrogen (N) sufficiency approach to assess plant N status for in-season N management requires a non-N-limiting reference to make N recommendations. Use of reference strips in fields with spatially variable soils and the impact this variability has within N enriched reference strips are not well understood. Consequently three strategies were investigated to evaluate the impact of spatially variable sandy soils within reference strips in two commercial center pivot-irrigated corn fields. Evaluation strategies were: (i) ignore soil spatial variability throughout the reference strips, (ii) account for soil variability in the reference strips based on second-order NRCS soil map units, and (iii) account for soil variability based on apparent electrical conductivity (ECa) data as a surrogate for soil texture differences in the reference strips. A sufficiency index (SI) calculated from radiometer measured canopy reflectance data (SIsensor) and from SPAD chlorophyll meter data (SImeter) at two growth stages during corn vegetative growth were used to assess N sufficiency within the N enriched reference strips. By ignoring soil spatial variability in the reference strips, corn in the sandier soils was designated N deficient. Accounting for soil spatial variability using NRCS soil mapping units improved N sufficiency designations of corn in the reference strip for the different soil types contained within the reference strip but tended to designate corn in lighter texture areas within a mapping unit as N deficient. Use of ECa as a surrogate for soil texture typically performed best for classifying corn N sufficiency throughout the reference strip and is recommended as a method to obtain reference strip normalizing values in fields with spatially variable sandy soils.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 19, 2011
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