Assessing the temporal stability of spatial patterns of soil apparent electrical conductivity using geophysical methods
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Department of Food Production, University of West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies
Int. Agrophys. 2014, 28(4): 423–433
Cocoa remains in the same field for decades, resulting in plantations dominated with aging trees growing on variable and depleted soils. We determined the spatio-temporal variability of key soil properties in a (5.81 ha) field from the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad using geophysical methods. Multi-year (2008-2009) measurements of apparent electrical conductivity at 0-0.75 m (shallow) and 0.75-1.5 m (deep) were conducted. Apparent electrical conductivity at deep and shallow gave the strongest linear correlation with clay-silt content (R = 0.67 and R = 0.78, respectively) and soil solution electrical conductivity (R = 0.76 and R = 0.60, respectively). Spearman rank correlation coefficients ranged between 0.89-0.97 and 0.81-0.95 for apparent electrical conductivity at deep and shallow, respectively, signifying a strong linear dependence between measurement days. Thus, in the humid tropics, cocoa fields with thick organic litter layer and relatively dense understory cover, experience minimal fluctuations in transient properties of soil water and temperature at the topsoil resulting in similarly stable apparent electrical conductivity at shallow and deep. Therefore, apparent electrical conductivity at shallow, which covers the depth where cocoa feeder roots concentrate, can be used as a fertility indicator and to develop soil zones for efficient application of inputs and management of cocoa fields.