Site-specific Management Zones Based on the Rasch Model and Geostatistical Techniques

Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, Article in Press, Available Online 13 December 2010

F.J. Moral, J.M. Terrón, and F.J. Rebollo

“Delineation of management zones (MZ), i.e. areas within the field which represent subfield regions of similar production potential, is the first stage to implement site-specific management. During the last years different algorithms have been proposed to define MZ, with different results. In this work, the use of an objective method, the formulation of the Rasch model, which synthesizes data with different units into a uniform analytical framework, is considered to get representative measures of soil fertility potential which could be used to delimit MZ.

“To illustrate the method, a case study was conducted in a experimental field using five soil properties: clay, sand and silt content, and deep (ECd) and shallow (ECs) soil apparent electrical conductivity (approximately 0–90 and 0–30 cm depths, respectively). Two main results were obtained after applying this method: (1) a classification of all locations according to the soil fertility potential, which was the value of the Rasch measure and (2) the influence on the soil fertility of each individual soil property, being ECs the most influential and silt content the less influential property.

“Later, from the measures of soil fertility potential at sampled points, estimates were carried out using the ordinary kriging technique. Consequently, kriged estimates were utilized to map soil fertility potential and MZ were delimited using an equal-size classification method, which practically coincided with the MZ determined by a unsupervised classification.

“It is also shown the possibility of using probability maps to delimit MZ or provide information for hazard assessment of soil fertility in a field.”