Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Ole Wendroth


Irrigation needs to be applied to soils in relatively humid regions such as western Kentucky to supply water for crop uptake to optimize and stabilize yields. Characterization of soil and crop variability at the field scale is needed to apply site specific management and to optimize water application. The objective of this work is to propose a characterization and modeling of soil and crop processes to improve irrigation management. Through an analysis of spatial and temporal behavior of soil and crop variables the variability in the field was identified. Integrative analysis of soil, crop, proximal and remote sensing data was utilized. A set of direct and indirect measurements that included soil texture, electrical conductivity (EC), soil chemical properties (pH, organic matter, N, P, K, Ca, Mg and Zn), NDVI, topographic variables, were measured in a silty loam soil near Princeton, Kentucky. Maps of measured properties were developed using kriging, and cokriging. Different approaches and two cluster methods (FANNY and CLARA) with selected variables were applied to identify management zones. Optimal scenarios were achieved with dividing the entire field into 2 or 3 areas. Spatial variability in the field is strongly influenced by topography and clay content. Using Root Zone Water Quality Model 2.0 (RZWQM), soil water tension was modeled and predicted at different zones based on the previous delineated zones. Soil water tension was measured at three depths (20, 40 and 60 cm) during different seasons (20016 and 2017) under wheat and corn. Temporal variations in soil water were driven mainly by precipitation but the behavior is different among management zones. The zone with higher clay content tends to dry out faster between rainfall events and reveals higher fluctuations in water tension even at greater depth. The other zones are more stable at the lower depth and share more similarities in their cyclic patterns. The model predictions were satisfactory in the surface layer but the accuracy decreased in deeper layers. A study of clay mineralogy was performed to explore field spatial differences based on the map classification. kaolinite, vermiculite, HIV and smectite are among the identified minerals. The clayey area presents higher quantity of some of the clay minerals. All these results show the ability to identify and characterize the field spatial variability, combining easily obtainable data under realistic farm conditions. This information can be utilized to manage resources more effectively through site specific application.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)