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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 96 No. 6, p. 1581-1587
    Received: Dec 11, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): klfleming@agriliance.com
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Evaluating Soil Color with Farmer Input and Apparent Soil Electrical Conductivity for Management Zone Delineation

  1. K. L. Fleming *a,
  2. D. F. Heermannb and
  3. D. G. Westfallc
  1. a Agriliance, LLC, 4545 Wheaton Dr., F190, Fort Collins, CO 80525
    b USDA-ARS-WMU, 2150 Centre Ave., Bldg. D, Suite 320, Fort Collins, CO 80526
    c Dep. of Soil and Crop Science, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523


Variable rate fertilizer application technology (VRT) can provide an opportunity to more efficiently utilize fertilizer inputs; however, accurate prescription maps are essential. Researchers and farmers have understood the value of dividing whole fields into smaller, homogeneous regions or management zones for fertility management. Management zones can be defined as spatially homogeneous subregions within a field that have similar crop input needs. Delineating management zones that characterize the spatial variability within a field may provide effective prescription maps for VRT. The objective of this research was to compare and evaluate management zones developed from soil color (SC) and farmer experience with management zones developed from apparent electrical conductivity (ECa). These two methods of developing management zones were compared with soil nutrient levels, texture, and crop yields collected on two fields in 1997. The soil and yield parameters followed the trends indicated by both management zone methods at Field 1 with the highest values found in the high productivity zones and the lowest the low productivity zones. Significant differences were found among the management zones. However, at Field 2 the high and medium productivity zones were generally not significantly different using the SC approach, whereas the ECa approach was effective in identifying three distinct management zones. Both methods of developing management zones seem to be identifying homogeneous subregions within fields.

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