Submitted to: Fast Times: News for the Near Surface Geophysical Sciences
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 25, 2011
Publication Date: February 7, 2011
Citation: Kitchen, N.R., Sudduth, K.A., Kremer, R.J., Myers, D.B. 2011. Mapping the soil health of agricultural fields via soil electrical conductivity. Fast Times: News for the Near Surface Geophysical Sciences. 15(4):41-47. Technical Abstract: Claypan soils in the central USA have experienced severe erosion as a result of tillage practices of the late 1800s and 1900s. Because of the site-specific nature of erosion processes within claypan fields, research is needed to achieve cost-effective sensing and mapping of soil and landscape properties that quantify the soil’s current ability to produce crops and provide ecosystem services- the concepts of soil quality. In this research soil electrical conductivity (ECa) sensors were used for high resolution mapping of soil quality indicators on a 36-ha claypan soil field in Missouri. Field areas experiencing the most erosion now have reduced grain production, lower plant available water capacity (PAWC), and slower infiltration. These same areas have greater amounts of sub-soil nutrients. The conclusion of this synthesis is that ECa sensor-based information can provide a much clearer picture of spatially-important characteristics of claypan soil quality, and can be used by land managers to target remediation of degraded soils and implement precision conservation practices.