Pedology, precision agriculture, and the changing paradigm of agricultural research

J. Bouma, J. Stoorvogel, B.J. Van Alphen, H.W.G. Booltink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Precision agriculture (PA) has recently been defined by the U.S. National Research Council as a management strategy that uses information technologies to bring data from multiple sources to bear on decisions associated with crop production. Soil information is important here, but current soil survey data do not satisfy PA requirements. In this paper, the need for soil data in PA is discussed on the basis of Dutch research. Not only operational, but also tactical and strategic aspects are considered. On the operational level, soil data, including parameters derived with pedotransfer functions, support the use of simulation models to quantify dynamically soil water regimes, N transformations, and biocide adsorption. Real time “forward-looking” simulations incorporated in early-warning systems assist in operational decisions on water, nutrient, and crop protection management. Backward-looking simulations, using historic weather data, can be used to evaluate different management tactics for exploratory strategic and tactical purposes. Such simulations should balance production and environmental requirements. At the strategic and tactical level, assembled data on the performance of various farm management systems should be grouped by soil series to build a systematic database, allowing “quick and preliminary” evaluations of the effects of farm management strategies based on experiences obtained elsewhere on similar soils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1768
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes


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