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Towards more precise sugar beet management based on geostatistical analysis of spatial variability within fields

Mahmood, S. A. (2015) Towards more precise sugar beet management based on geostatistical analysis of spatial variability within fields. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Within-field variation in sugar beet yield and quality was investigated in three commercial sugar beet fields in the east of England to identify the main associated variables and to examine the possibility of predicting yield early in the season with a view to spatially variable management of sugar beet crops. Irregular grid sampling with some purposively-located nested samples was applied. It revealed the spatial variability in each sugar beet field efficiently. In geostatistical analyses, most variograms were isotropic with moderate to strong spatial dependency indicating a significant spatial variation in sugar beet yield and associated growth and environmental variables in all directions within each field. The Kriged maps showed spatial patterns of yield variability within each field and visual association with the maps of other variables. This was confirmed by redundancy analyses and Pearson correlation coefficients. The main variables associated with yield variability were soil type, organic matter, soil moisture, weed density and canopy temperature. Kriged maps of final yield variability were strongly related to that in crop canopy cover, LAI and intercepted solar radiation early in the growing season, and the yield maps of previous crops. Therefore, yield maps of previous crops together with early assessment of sugar beet growth may make an early prediction of within-field variability in sugar beet yield possible. The Broom’s Barn sugar beet model failed to account for the spatial variability in sugar yield, but the simulation was greatly improved when corrected for early canopy development cover and when the simulated yield was adjusted for weeds and plant population. Further research to optimize inputs to maximise sugar yield should target the irrigation and fertilizing of areas within fields with low canopy cover early in the season.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Murdoch, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:48051


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