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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Impact on Electrical Conductivity Measurement Due to Soil Profile Properties, Shallow Hydrologic Conditions, Fertilizer Application, Agricultural Tillage, and the Type of Geophysical Method Employed

Authors
item Allred, Barry
item Ehsani, M - OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
item Daniels, J - OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Symposium on Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 4, 2003
Publication Date: April 20, 2003
Citation: ALLRED, B.J., EHSANI, M.R., DANIELS, J.J. THE IMPACT ON ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY MEASUREMENT DUE TO SOIL PROFILE PROPERTIES, SHALLOW HYDROLOGIC CONDITIONS, FERTILIZER APPLICATION, AGRICULTURAL TILLAGE, AND THE TYPE OF GEOPHYSICAL METHOD EMPLOYED. PROCEEDINGS OF APPLICATION OF GEOPHYSICS TO ENGINEERING AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS. 2003. CD-ROM. P. 336-349.

Technical Abstract: Precision agriculture is a growing trend, allowing the right amount of fertilizer, soil amendments, pesticides, herbicides, and tillage effort to be applied to different field areas, thereby optimizing crop yields while reducing input costs. Field crop yield variations are often strongly correlated with spatial soil fertility patterns. The intrinsic fertility of a soil is itself affected by various soil profile properties, such as salinity, organic matter content, cation exchange capacity, grain size distribution, clay mineralogy, claypan/fragipan depth, etc. Apparent soil electrical conductivity (ECa), mapped in situ with geophysical methods, can potentially be used to gauge spatial changes in soil fertility, since it is influenced by these very same properties. However, other factors related more to agricultural field operations also possibly impact ECa, and examples include shallow hydrologic conditions affected by irrigation/drainage (or rainfall), changes in soil nutrient levels from fertilizer application, and alteration of soil density near the surface due to normal tillage operations. The ECa impact of these other factors compared to soil profile properties were investigated primarily through electromagnetic induction (EMI) surveys on a test plot where a series of field condition modifications were undertaken. Here, the average EMI ECa correlated moderately well with average soil surface volumetric moisture content (r2 = 0.67), but not with average shallow water table depth (r2 = 0.00). Factoring in the soil surface moisture conditions present, high fertilizer applications appeared to modestly increase the average test plot ECa. Soil tillage, though, had minimal influence. The spatial patterns shown in the EMI generated maps generally remained consistent, regardless of test plot field conditions, indicating soil profile properties dominated the ECa response. EMI and two different pulled electrode array resistivity methods were then tested on two other test plots, and with respect to spatial ECa patterns, all three techniques provided similar results.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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