Identifying factors affecting crop yield and nutrient transport in field and watershed




Research sites in Manitoba, Canada were established under the Eastern
Prairie Living Labs Initiative. The goal of this research is to identify driving
factors which affect crop yield and nutrient transport in the field and
watershed and inform producers about alternative field management
practices to improve crop production and reduce nutrient losses.
Production zones (consistently producing high, medium, and low zones)
were identified in the field based on analysis of historical yield modified by
covariates such as terrain attributes and soil properties, to determine
where nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) accumulate at the field scale.
Trials with replicated strips of fixed variable rates of fertilizer application
were established to identify optimum fertilizer application rates for targeted
crop yield depending on the production zone in the field. Stevens Hydra
moisture and temperature sensors were installed across soil profiles
nested in low, medium, and high production zones to provide real time
data. In situ soil moisture data along with retrieved soil moisture from
Radarsat Constellation Mission sensors and crop imagery from optical
remote sensing (satellite and drone based), coupled with output from
ArcAPEX process based model will be used in machine learning analysis
combining fixed treatments, environmental, field management, and
landform related factors to identify factors driving crop yields and nutrient
transport in the field and watershed. The combinations of environmental
factors will include monthly variations in growing season precipitation,
accumulated crop specific heat units, micro and macro topography and
elevation, soil electrical conductivity, soil and topography wetness indices,
and in situ soil moisture and temperate.