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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #410820

Research Project: Contributions of Climate, Soils, Species Diversity, and Management to Sustainable Crop, Grassland, and Livestock Production Systems

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Evaluating intra-field spatial variability for nutrient management zone delineation through geospatial techniques and multivariate analysis

item SALEM, HAYTHAM - University Of Idaho
item SCHOTT, LINDA - University Of Idaho
item PIASKOWSKI, JULIA - University Of Idaho
item CHAPAGAIN, ASMITA - University Of Idaho
item Krecker-Yost, Jenifer
item BROOKS, ERIN - University Of Idaho
item JOHNSON-MAYNARD, JODI - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: Sustainability
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2024
Publication Date: 1/11/2024
Citation: Salem, H.M., Schott, L.R., Piaskowski, J., Chapagain, A., Krecker-Yost, J.L., Brooks, E., Johnson-Maynard, J. 2024. Evaluating intra-field spatial variability for nutrient management zone delineation through geospatial techniques and multivariate analysis. Sustainability. 16(2). 645.

Interpretive Summary: This study emphasizes the need to manage soil nutrients effectively for better crop productivity, considering the specific characteristics of different areas. It was conducted in two fields in Southern Idaho, growing barley and sugar beets. Soil samples were collected and analyzed for various properties. The data showed significant variability, and spatial patterns were revealed using interpolation methods. Management zones were created using a combination of analyses, leading to two distinct clusters in each field. The study concluded that these management zones were effective in optimizing soil nutrient management and enhancing crop yields.

Technical Abstract: This research study underscores the importance of effectively managing soil nutrients in a site-specific manner to enhance crop productivity, while considering the spatial variability of the soil. The objective is to identify subfields with similar soil characteristics, referred to as management zones (MZs), to promote sustainable land utilization. The study was conducted in two central pivot fields located in southern Idaho, USA, where barley and sugar beets were grown. Soil samples were collected from each field in a grid pattern and analyzed for various chemical properties. These properties included soil pH, organic matter, cation exchange capacity, excess lime, electrical conductivity, total inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and boron. Descriptive statistics and normality tests were performed, and the coefficient of variation was calculated to assess the heterogeneity of soil properties, revealing significant variability. To determine the spatial variability of soil properties, the Ordinary Kriging interpolation method was employed, revealing diverse distribution patterns with moderate to strong spatial dependence. To develop the management zones, a combination of principal component analysis and fuzzy k-means clustering was utilized. Specific parameters that represented the overall variability of soil properties in each field were identified. Based on these parameters, two clusters were created in each field. The first management zone (MZ1) exhibited lower values of soil pH, excess lime content, and electrical conductivity compared to the MZ2. Consequently, higher crop productivity was observed in MZ1 in both fields. The biomass yields of barley and sugar beets in MZ1 surpassed those in MZ2 significantly. In conclusion, this study highlights the effectiveness of the methodology employed to delineate MZs, which can be instrumental in precise soil nutrient management and maximizing crop productivity.