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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Within field cereal yield variability as affected by soil physical properties and weather variations - A case study in east central Sweden

Bolenius, Elisabeth; Stenberg, Bo; Arvidsson, Johan


Yield variations within fields can be substantial and soil physical properties are important as explanatory factors. However, correlations between yield and soil physical properties change between years, mainly depending on weather conditions. This study examined yield variations within a field and the explanatory power of interactions with soil physical factors. It also examined whether soil penetration resistance measurements can indicate areas where soil physical properties are potentially yield-limiting. Field measurements and soil sampling were carried out at 20 locations spread across a 7.5 ha area on a Eutric Cambisol within a 28 ha field at Kvarnbo farm in Uppsala, Sweden (59 degrees 50'N, 17 degrees 32'E). Yield was monitored in 1996-2000 and 2004. Soil sampling was performed in spring 2004 for measurement of soil texture, organic matter content, saturated hydraulic conductivity, bulk density and water-holding capacity at two matric tensions, 0.5 kPa and 10 kPa. Penetration resistance was measured on three separate occasions in 2004 and 2005, to cover any changes within and between seasons. "Simple" regression and principal component analysis (PCA) was used to test for significant differences in the data. Texture proved to be the main factor explaining the overall variation between sampling points, but penetration resistance was the most influential factor for yield variations. Yield in 2000 differed from that in other years due to excess water in lower-lying parts of the field (r=-0.70 between yield in 2000 and water-holding capacity in the subsoil, compared with r=0.6 in dry years). Since penetration resistance was correlated to several other measured soil properties it could be suitable as a screening tool to identify areas with poorer soil physical status for further investigations. Soil physical properties and their effects on yield were highly dependent on the weather. In high-yielding years, when water was not the limiting factor, soil physical status mattered less.


Penetration resistance; Cereal yield; Yield variation; Soil physical status; Water availability; Cambisol; Sweden; Northern Europe

Published in

Geoderma Regional
2017, Volume: 11, pages: 96-103