Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems


Authors: Barlin O.Olivares, JulioCalero, Juan C.Rey, Deyanira Lobo, Blanca B.Landa, José A.Gómez 


Soil morphological properties described in the field, such as texture, consistence or structure, provide a valuable tool for the evaluation of soil productivity potential. In this study, we developed a regression model between the soil morphological variables of banana plantations and a crop Productivity Index (PI) previously developed for the same areas in Venezuela. For this, we implemented categorical regression, an optimal scaling procedure in which the morphological variables are transformed into a numerical scale, and can thus be entered in a multiple regression analysis. The model was developed from data from six plantations growing “Gran Nain” bananas, each with two productivity levels (high and low), in two 4-ha experimental plots, one for each productivity level. Sixty-three A horizons in thirty-six soils were described using 15 field morphological variables on a nominal scale for structure type, texture and hue, and an ordinal scale for the rest (structure grade, structure size, wet and dry consistence, stickiness, plasticity, moist value, chroma, root abundance, root size, biological activity and reaction to HCl). The optimum model selected included biological activity, texture, dry consistence, reaction to HCl and structure type variables. These variables explained the PI with an R2 of 0.599, an expected prediction error (EPE) of 0.645 and a standard error (SE) of 0.135 using bootstrapping, and EPE of 0.662 with a SE of 0.236 using 10-fold cross validation. Our study showed how soil quality is clearly related to productivity on commercial banana plantations, and developed a way to correlate soil quality indicators to yield by using indicators based on easily measured soil morphological parameters. The methodology used in this study might be further expanded to other banana-producing areas to help identify the soils most suitable for its cultivation, thereby enhancing its environmental sustainability and profitability.

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