Effect of Agricultural Intervention on the Spatial Variability of some Soils Chemical Properties in the Eastern Plains of Colombia

Jesús H. Camacho-Tamayo1; Carlos A. Luengas2; Fabio R. Leiva3*

Growing demand for food exerts pressure on natural resources and may lead to the expansion of agricultural frontiers in developing countries. Most of this pressure appears in tropical zones, in native savannahs, with naturally infertile soils prone to degradation. Crop management in these regions is based on generalized estimates, leaving aside the inherent soil variability, leading to low production efficiency and high risk of environmental damage. This study aims at determining the spatial variability of some chemical properties, including organic carbon, pH, exchangeable acidity, exchangeable aluminum, P, Ca, Mg, K and Na for two Oxisols with different levels of agricultural intervention, in Puerto Lopez, Colombia, in order to identify guidelines for site-specific management. A forty-two point grid (25´ 25 m) was established for samplings at two depths: 0-100 and 100-200 mm. Descriptive statistics and geostatistics were used to analyze soil properties spatial dependence. Variogram models were obtained and from them maps of properties were drawn using ordinary punctual kriging. The results showed that spatial variability of the soil chemical properties depends upon the use of amendments, fertilizing methods, tillage and the inherent characteristics of each variable analyzed. A greater influence of the agricultural intervention on spatial variability was evident in the upper 100 mm of soil. Spatial dependence was found for most of the studied soil properties. However, K and Na presented variograms with pure nugget effects and/or very short ranges. The information generated is a base to derive guidelines for site-specific agriculture.

Keywords: geostatistics, kriging, soil management, precision agriculture
1 Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Ingeniería, Programa de Ingeniería Agrícola, Apartado Aéreo 14490, Ciudad Universitaria, Bogotá, Colombia. E-mail: jhcamachot@unal.edu.co
2 Universidad de Cundinamarca, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Diagonal 18 No. 20-29, Fusagasuga, Colombia. E-mail: carlfabus@yahoo.com
3 Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Agronomía, Apartado aéreo 14490, Bogotá, Colombia. E-mail: frleivab@unal.edu.co *Corresponding author.