Assess the benefit of using management zones versus grids for sampling
Feb 19, 2014
Question: We have done 2.5 acre grid samples the last two years and spread fertilizer with the grids. Can I move out to 10-acre grids and get average and get the same results? We are in the southeast part of Georgia.
Answer: I would not let a grid establish how I pulled the samples. I would look for any information I can get for how the field yields to start with. However the field yields is how it should be sampled. I like to lay soil types down first and then the yield maps and aerial imagery of fields over my soil maps to refine the zones. I always respect my soil types and then subdivide those soil types down into zones based on water drainage, water availability and crop growth. Instead of looking at 2.5-acre or 10-acre grids, I would look at your yield maps. If you don’t have yield maps in cotton and peanuts, I would look at aerial imagery (NDVI) as well as thermal imagery to help me define how the field yields. Take the high, medium and low yields in the field – that’s how it should be mapped out and sampled so you have a better picture. Your yield map and soil test map should correlate. Granted, yield maps in corn are easy to get, while cotton and peanuts may be a lot harder to do. If that’s the case, I would rely on NDVI or thermal imagery to help me have a good map, and then I would sample it by management zones not grids. A management zone can vary in size. Some might be 10 acres in size and others as small as 2 acres. Let soil type, topography, fertility and yield history separate the field out into management zones. By that I mean, for example, with corn if I have one area making 220 bushel/acre consistently and another area making 150 bushel/acre, those are two separate management zones. If you know how that field yields, that’s how it should be tested.
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