Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Using Active Sensors to Identify Soil Management Zones.

Dennis Francis1, James Schepers1, John Shanahan1, Michael Schlemmer1, and Kyle Holland2. (1) PO Box 830934, USDA-ARS, USDA-ARS, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0934, (2) Holland Scientific Inc., 5011 South 73rd Street, Lincoln, NE 68516

Management zones and variable rate application of fertilizer, manure, and seeds can improve the efficacy of nutrient management compared with conventional practices of applying uniform rates across the entire field. In order to avoid the high cost of intensive grid sampling to delineate soil management zones, GIS software has made it possible to combine data from various sources such as electrical conductivity, topography, yield maps, and aerial photographs to identify field zones with similar characteristics. In this study, soil reflectance and topography maps developed from data collected by active sensors mounted on no-till planters were used to partition fields into management zones. Following management zone delineation, soil samples and crop yield data were collected to show possible correlation between management zones and crop yields. Findings from this study show that soil reflectance data from active sensors may be useful for delineating management zones.