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2002. The unpredictability of soil fertility across space and time

By R. L. Hoskinson, D. Pokrajac, Z. Obradovic and A. Lazarevic


One of the cornerstones of precision agriculture is the variable fertilization of a field based on the spatial variability of its soil fertility. Often the fertilizers are applied in the fall after harvest as the treatment in support of next spring’s planting. But these treatments imply knowledge of the changes in soil fertility across space and time. Our paper reports on our analyses of field data collected throughout the growing season over four years, from the same locations within a field. For several soil fertility and soil characterization parameters, comparison of their spatial variability between successive sampling times showed unexpected changes. In this paper we also discuss the prediction analyses we conducted. The predictions used historic field data from the early years as the model to predict the spatial variability in soil fertility parameters at a subsequent sampling time in later years. One analysis used one set of the spatially variable fall soil fertility and subsequent spring fertility to develop the model from which to learn. This model was then used with a later year’s fall data to predict the following spring’s spatially variable soil fertility. Our results strongly suggest that the changes in the spatial variability in soil fertility across a field from fall to the next spring are not predictable. This raises a question then on the validity and applicability of fall fertilization in preparation for the next growing season

Topics: fertilization, soil fertility prediction, temporal, spatial
Year: 2009
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