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Potential for spectral indices to remotely sense phosphorus and potassium content of legume-based pasture as a means of assessing soil phosphorus and potassium fertility status

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Precision nutrient management needs analytical tools that aid collection of site-specific data. Adequate soil phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertility is crucial for pasture production in New Zealand. This article explores (a) the relationship between 12 spectral indices from in situ canopy reflectance and pasture growth rate (PGR), and pasture P and K content in pastures, (b) the performance of the model in different seasons and (c) the relationship between sensed pasture P and K content and soil P (Olsen P) and K (exchangeable K) fertility. Hyperspectral data were collected from a small area of each of 30 legume-based pastures that varied in soil P (Olsen P 5-72 mg kg-1) and soil exchangeable K (0.20-1.32 cmol kg-1) in spring 2004 and again in summer 2006. Overall, the photochemical reflectance index (PRI) showed the best coefficients of determination (R2) for most variables. In an exploratory analysis using all the spectral waveband data, normalized difference spectral indices (NDSIs) using the combination of reflectance at 523 and 583 nm of the pasture canopy gave the best prediction of soil P and exchangeable K status. The prediction of Olsen P from plant P (R2 > 0.89) and soil K from plant K (R2 > 0.73) was achieved through fitted logarithmic functions that linked plant P and K to soil P and K status, respectively. This pilot study has been broadened to examine other methodologies for interpreting the spectral data and extended to other pasture types and soil orders.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation, Hiroshima University, 1-5-1 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan,AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North, New Zealand 2: AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North, New Zealand 3: New Zealand Centre for Precision Agriculture, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand 4: National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, Kannondai 3-1-3, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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