Soil Spatial Variability

Authored by: Ole Wendroth , Sylvia Koszinski , Vicente Vasquez

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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One of the parameters of soil ecosystems are soil processes (Gregorich et al., 2001). Process is based on the Latin word “procedere—to proceed, to advance, to go on.” Each individual stage of a process depends on the previous stage in either a causal (deterministic) manner or a probabilistic (stochastic) manner. A soil process can be considered in space and time. A spatial soil process is the change of a variable or a state vector consisting of several variables across a spatial domain caused by underlying effects. The spatial process of soil water content considered across a landscape can be influenced by spatial changes in soil type, topography, vegetation, rainfall, evapotranspiration, management, etc. Similarly, a temporal process is the change of a soil variable or state vector observed at the same location over time caused by underlying effects. The temporal process of soil water content is influenced by temporal occurrences of precipitation, evapotranspiration, drainage, capillary rise, etc. Hence, subsequent stages in either space or time do not vary randomly but depend on each other. If in fact subsequent stages of a process do not depend on each other but rather vary randomly, the monitoring of a sequence of stages would not allow us to derive any causal or statistical relationships between various ongoing changes. In other words, the spacing or time increments between observations would be inappropriate to identify the process.

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