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VII. Perspectives: Future Use of Geostatistics in Soil Research
B. B. TRANGMAR ET AL.
including management effects. The development of procedures for quantifying anisotropy, trends, and periodic phenomena gives geostatistics a versatility for dealing with natural phenomena that few other interpolation methods
have. Procedures for quantifying nested variation (Burrough, 1983a,b) and
computer production of maps at a range of spatial scales from a finely kriged
grid (Giltrap, 1983a) represent new approaches to dealing with scale-related
effects of soil processes and scientists’ perception of them.
The initial emphasis in geostatistical interpolation has been on punctual
kriging, due to its ease of computation. The relative benefits accruing from
block kriging, such as smoother maps, smaller estimation variances, and
easier use for design of sampling schemes, are now generally acknowledged
and are likely to result in increased use of areal interpolation in the future. In
designing spatial studies for estimation and mapping of properties for which
there are cheap surrogates, the co-regionalization of properties and use of cokriging should be considered as a potential cost-saver in making field and
laboratory measurements without loss in mapping precision.
Geostatistics could be used in soil survey operations for structural analysis
of soil variation to aid understanding of soil genesis and for analysis of
reconnaissance data for defining future sampling populations and configurations both within and among different terrain units. The cost-effectiveness of
geostatistics-based sampling schemes in practical soil survey operations
needs to be field tested in different types of terrain for comparison with
traditional sampling techniques. Kriging can augment general-purpose information contained in conventional soil maps by interpolation of interpretive
data and specific measured or derived properties, which may vary independently of mapping unit boundaries. The ease of data manipulation, speed of
computation, and precision of computer-generated maps based on kriging of
soil properties make geostatistical techniques particularly desirable in the
face of user demand for quick and reliable soil survey results (Giltrap, 1983a).
The versatility and range of geostatistical software now available make
spatial analysis of natural phenomena applicable to many areas of agronomic
research. Block kriging appears to be particularly useful for estimating soil
amendment requirements over areas the size of land management units.
Adaptation of volume-variance relationships for estimation of ore recovery in
mining (David, 1977; Clark, 1979) to the agronomic situation offers the
potential for spatial interpretation of critical levels of soil constraints to crop
production. Such an approach might be applied to using within-field
variation of properties such as soil moisture content for improving the
efficiency of irrigation water use, nutrient levels for fertilizer application, or
soil chemical properties for amendment needs, such as liming.
Analysis of the spatial response of crop growth to the variability of soil
properties, such as nutrient uptake in response to variation of soil nutrient
APPLICATION OF GEOSTATISTICS
parameters (Trangmar, 1982), available moisture (Tabor et al., 1984), or root
penetration, may further contribute to the agronomists’ understanding of the
role of spatial effects in soil-crop relations. Geostatistical analysis of the
incidence of pest and disease attacks in crops might aid identification of
spatial sources of such attacks. Identification of a spatially dependent
component of “random” error may help further reduce the confounding
effects of within-plot variability on treatment effects in agricultural experimentation. The use of spatial dependence in identifying optimal plot size and
spacing of samples within plots has already been described by Vieira et al.
Geostatistical analysis of spatial variation in natural phenomena has a
wide range of potential applications in soil and agronomic research. In
applying geostatistics, it should be remembered that semi-variograms and
kriging are tools constrained by their assumptions and, where these assumptions break down, other methods of spatial analysis may be more appropriate.
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ADVANCES IN AGRONOMY. VOL 38
THE INFLUENCE OF SOIL
STRUCTURE O N
CROP ROOT GROWTH,
A N D WATER UPTAKE
Ann P. Hamblinl
Western Australian Department of Agriculture
South Perth. Western Australia, Australia
....... .......... ..
A. Total Porosity; Capacity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
B. Pore-Size Distribution and the Moisture Characteristic . . . . . . . . . . . .
C. Pore Continuity and Hydraulic Conductivity . . . , . . . . . . . . , . . . . .
Stability of the Pore System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . :.
A. The Concept of Stability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
B. Clay and Aggregate Bonding in Agricultural Soils. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
C. Organic Matter Bonding in Agricultural Topsoils. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Water Flow in Agricultural Soils . . , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A. Infiltration.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
B. Redistribution within the Root Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Patterns of Root Growth. . . . , , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A. Genotypic Variation . . . . , . . . . . . . . . . , . . . , . . . . . . . . . . . . .
B. Environmental Influences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Water Upake by Roots. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Speculation: Are We Measuring and Averaging at Consistent Scales?. . . . . . .
I. Introduction . .
11. Soil Structure: Components of the Soil-Pore System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I . INTRODUCTION
In recent years soil physics has been concerned with extending quantitative
predictions of soil-water movement from defined, uniform conditions to the
greater complexity of the “real world,” where heterogeneity of soil parameters occurs at many space and time scales. Concurrently, in plant physiology
Present address: CSIRO Dryland Crops and Soils Research Program, Private Bag,
Wembley P.O., Western Australia 6014, Australia.
Copyright CI 1985 by Academic Press, Inc.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
A N N P. HAMBLIN
efforts have increased to locate and quantify resistances to water flow in the
soil-plant system, as has been reviewed by Taylor and Klepper (1978). The
aim of much of this work has been to model water transport quantitatively
to provide accurate solutions to water-use problems in agriculture and
The aim of this paper is to link these two topics by focusing on the role of
the soil structure (the soil-pore system) through which both water and roots
move. The principle reason for concentrating on soil structure is that, of the
soil’s intrinsic physical properties, it is the one most easily, frequently, and
widely altered, particularly by cultivation. Greater understanding of the role
of soil structure, with both its inherent and induced variations, should
improve our ability to manipulate deliberately the soil environment for more
effective crop production and water management.
Although the scope of this article is large, space considerations alone must
make its treatment selective. The environments which have received most
attention are temperate to subtropical, in the context of rain-fed arable
II. SOIL STRUCTURE: COMPONENTS OF THE
Almost any paper or book on soil structure written over the past 40 years
commences with a reverential acknowledgment of the subject’s importance to
soil physical conditions for crop growth. In the next breath, however, many of
these works will confess the singularly intractable nature of the problem of
characterizing those aspects of soil structure most relevant to plants. As in
many branches of science, advances in understanding have frequently had to
wait upon techniques for measurement and observation. In the case of soil
structure, advances in colloid science and sedimentology led to more
knowledge about the arrangement (and composition) of the solid soil
particles at an earlier date than knowledge about the pores within and
between them. Yet, as early as 1911, Green and Ampt, whose work on “the
flow of air and water through soils” still provides the basis for many studies
on water movement, commented that “the relations of the soil to the
movements of air and water through it.. .are much less obscure if we direct
our attention to the number and dimensions of the spaces between the particles
rather than to the sizes of the particles themselves.” In recent years studies of
soil structure have come around to their viewpoint and have concentrated on
the soil-pore system. However, the true complexity of spatial variation and
surface reactivity of soil structure is still seldom adequately quantified. We