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Keywords:

  • apparent electrical conductivity;
  • yield;
  • regression analysis;
  • local regression kriging

Abstract

Apparent electrical conductivity of soil (ECa) is a property frequently used as a diagnostic tool in precision agriculture, and is measured using vehicle-mounted proximal sensors. Crop-yield data, which is measured by harvester-mounted sensors, is usually collected at a higher spatial density compared to ECa. ECa and crop-yield maps frequently exhibit similar spatial patterns because ECa is primarily controlled by the soil clay content and the interrelated soil moisture content, which are often significant contributors to crop-yield potential. By quantifying the spatial relationship between soil ECa and crop yield, it is possible to estimate the value of ECa at the spatial resolution of the crop-yield data. This is achieved through the use of a local regression kriging approach which uses the higher-resolution crop-yield data as a covariate to predict ECa at a higher spatial resolution than would be prudent with the original ECa data alone. The accuracy of the local regression kriging (LRK) method is evaluated against local kriging (LK) and local regression (LR) to predict ECa. The results indicate that the performance of LRK is dependent on the performance of the inherent local regression. Over a range of ECa transect survey densities, LRK provides greater accuracy than LK and LR, except at very low density. Maps of the regression coefficients demonstrated that the relationship between ECa and crop yield varies from year to year, and across a field. The application of LRK to commercial scale ECa survey data, using crop yield as a covariate, should improve the accuracy of the resultant maps. This has implications for employing the maps in crop-management decisions and building more robust calibrations between field-gathered soil ECa and primary soil properties such as clay content.