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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Symposium: Statistical Concepts

Nonlinear Regression Models and Applications in Agricultural Research


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 107 No. 2, p. 786-798
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Dec 28, 2012
    Accepted: Mar 18, 2013
    Published: February 19, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): femiguez@iastate.edu
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  1. Sotirios V. Archontoulisa and
  2. Fernando E. Miguez *a
  1. a Dep. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., 1206 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011


Nonlinear regression models are important tools because many crop and soil processes are better represented by nonlinear than linear models. Fitting nonlinear models is not a single-step procedure but an involved process that requires careful examination of each individual step. Depending on the objective and the application domain, different priorities are set when fitting nonlinear models; these include obtaining acceptable parameter estimates and a good model fit while meeting standard assumptions of statistical models. We propose steps in fitting nonlinear models as described by a flow diagram and discuss each step separately providing examples and updates on procedures used. The following steps are considered: (i) choose candidate models, (ii) set starting values, (iii) fit models, (iv) check convergence and parameter estimates, (v) find the “best” model among competing models, (vi) check model assumptions (residual analysis), and (vii) calculate statistical descriptors and confidence intervals. The associated feedback mechanisms are also addressed (i.e., model variance homogeneity). In particular, we emphasize the first step (choose candidate models) by providing an extensive library of nonlinear functions (77 equations with the associated parameter meanings) and examples of typical applications in agriculture. We hope that this contribution will clarify some of the difficulties and confusion with the task of using nonlinear models.

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