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Digital soil mapping for site-specific management of soils

Iticha, Birhanu, Takele, Chalsissa
Geoderma 2019 v.351 pp. 85-91
acidity, agricultural land, calcium, cation exchange capacity, crop production, exchangeable potassium, geostatistics, landscapes, magnesium, nutrients, organic carbon, pH, phosphorus, precision agriculture, sodium, soil heterogeneity, soil surveys, soil texture, total nitrogen, Ethiopia
Classification of fields into management zones based on variability of soil fertility parameters is under use in precision agriculture. The study was conducted in west Wollega zone of Ethiopia covering nearly 40 km2 of agricultural land, with the aim to explain variability of soils in the field, classify soils into mapping units and produce a map of these soils at a scale of 1:10000 using geostatistics. In this paper, soil mapping units (SMUs) were interchangeably used with management zones. Ten SMUs were identified in the study site. The SMU mean pH value varied between 5.3 in the SMU6 and 6.4 in the SMU7. Variation in soil texture, pH, exchangeable acidity, exchangeable potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), cation exchange capacity (CEC), organic carbon (OC), total nitrogen (TN), and plant available phosphorus (AvP), were observed within and among SMUs. Variability of soil parameters ranged from 1.06% (Na) in the SMU5 to 172.94% (AvP) in the SMU8. The OC and AvP content of all SMUs were found in the very low and low critical ranges. Intensive grid sampling had helped to produce digital soil maps and exposed soil heterogeneity across the landscape. We suggest that classification of fields into management zones was a remedy to low crop production occurred from uniform applications of nutrients and chemical amendments to significantly varying soils.