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Identifying management zones in agricultural fields using spatially constrained classification of soil and ancillary data

By Z. L. Frogbrook and M. A. Oliver


Site-specific management requires accurate knowledge of the spatial variation in a range of soil properties within fields. This involves considerable sampling effort, which is costly. Ancillary data, such as crop yield, elevation and apparent electrical conductivity (ECa) of the soil, can provide insight into the spatial variation of some soil properties. A multivariate classification with spatial constraint imposed by the variogram was used to classify data from two arable crop fields. The yield data comprised 5 years of crop yield, and the ancillary data 3 years of yield data, elevation and ECa. Information on soil chemical and physical properties was provided by intensive surveys of the soil. Multivariate variograms computed from these data were used to constrain sites spatially within classes to increase their contiguity. The constrained classifications resulted in coherent classes, and those based on the ancillary data were similar to those from the soil properties. The ancillary data seemed to identify areas in the field where the soil is reasonably homogeneous. The results of targeted sampling showed that these classes could be used as a basis for management and to guide future sampling of the soil

Year: 2007
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