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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 95 No. 3, p. 455-471
    Received: Apr 23, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): dcorwin@ussl.ars.usda.gov
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Application of Soil Electrical Conductivity to Precision Agriculture

  1. D. L. Corwin * and
  2. S. M. Lesch
  1. USDA-ARS, George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity Lab., 450 West Big Springs Rd., Riverside, CA 92507-4617


Due in large measure to the prodigious research efforts of Rhoades and his colleagues at the George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity Laboratory over the past two decades, soil electrical conductivity (EC), measured using electrical resistivity and electromagnetic induction (EM), is among the most useful and easily obtained spatial properties of soil that influences crop productivity. As a result, soil EC has become one of the most frequently used measurements to characterize field variability for application to precision agriculture. The value of spatial measurements of soil EC to precision agriculture is widely acknowledged, but soil EC is still often misunderstood and misinterpreted. To help clarify misconceptions, a general overview of the application of soil EC to precision agriculture is presented. The following areas are discussed with particular emphasis on spatial EC measurements: a brief history of the measurement of soil salinity with EC, the basic theories and principles of the soil EC measurement and what it actually measures, an overview of the measurement of soil salinity with various EC measurement techniques and equipment (specifically, electrical resistivity with the Wenner array and EM), examples of spatial EC surveys and their interpretation, applications and value of spatial measurements of soil EC to precision agriculture, and current and future developments. Precision agriculture is an outgrowth of technological developments, such as the soil EC measurement, which facilitate a spatial understanding of soil–water–plant relationships. The future of precision agriculture rests on the reliability, reproducibility, and understanding of these technologies.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of AgronomyPublished in Agron. J.95:455–471.