Soils provide plants with essential minerals and nutrients; provide air for gaseous exchange between roots and atmosphere; protect plants from erosion and other destructive physical, biological and chemical activity; hold water (moisture) and maintain adequate aeration. The better we understand the soils in which we place our seed, the better our opportunity to maximize their potential advantages and minimize their potential disadvantages.
Why does Functional Soil Mapping matter?
Current standard soil maps generally classify soil types as broad units based on appearance. These maps are usually static from year to year, while the soils in our fields are in a constant state of change. Functional Soil Maps anticipate, and reflect, these changes offering us a better, more up to date, understanding of what is happening in our fields today, and throughout the growing season. We can see how our soils really function, offering more insight for better placement and management to optimize performance, and offer greater potential R.O.I.
SSURGO: Surface Texture
How are Functional Soil Maps different?
Functional Soil Maps use statistical models and data science with accurate 3D elevation measurements to understand the relationship between soil properties, field topography, and water movement across that topography and through the soil profile. The hard lines from the USDA (SSURGO) maps are replaced with transitional areas that provide a better understanding of the relationship of soil, weather, and seed. The Functional Soil Map model mimics the relationship between soil properties and field topography. With this understanding, the model can map predictive patterns that help us better understand where agronomic practices can be applied to achieve the most benefit. This better understanding leads to a more accurate defining of management zones and combined with better long-term weather prediction, offers greater insight into seed product placement and management.
Functional Soil Survey: Elevation
Functional Soil Survey: Topographic Wetness Index
What Soil Qualifiers are used for Seed Product Placement and Management?
Wetness (Drainage), Sand, Silt, Clay, Organic Matter, C.E.C, pH, Water Holding Capacity, and Water Table Depth, are all used to determine if a soil is a Productive Soil or a Marginal Soil. But even the most uniform appearing fields still have variability within these “Soil Qualifiers,” leading to areas of highest and lowest yield potential. Creating management zones within a field offers the potential to vary seeding rates, fertility rates, and even product placement (Multi-Hybrid Planting) to maximize the Return, and minimize the Investment and the Risk.
Functional Soil Survey: Organic Matter
Functional Soil Survey: CEC
How do Functional Soil Maps offer greater Insight into these Soil Qualifiers?
The Functional Soil Survey starts with an accurate 3D Topographic Elevation Map from Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging), a surveying method that measures the distance to a target by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflected light with a sensor. Accurate Slope can then be calculated from that Elevation Map. Elevation and Slope is then applied to the SSURGO supplied Soil Properties (Qualifiers) to offer natural transitions, not hard lines, between higher and lower values taken from SSURGO Soil Cores. The model’s algorithms’ are able to consider water movement across the field topography and through the soil profile over time, predicting how the soil actually changes between those sampling points.
The long-term weather forecast from WeatherTrends360 is then applied to the model in consideration of all the Functional Soil Survey layers to create the Productivity Index, which offers production management zones that offer why, based on the soil and the weather, an area of the field will have higher or lower yield potential. This “why” insight stands in contrast to most “what” insight offered by management zones created from Yield Map averages, or grid sampled (non-topographic) Soil Tests, or the SSURGO Soil Type map. The Functional Soil Map insight is based upon the interaction of weather upon soils with variable properties and topographic transitions.
Productivity Index: 1-10 Scaling
How does the Productivity Index impact Seed Plans in Advantage Acre?
Before a Seed Plan can be created for a field in Advantage Acre, a Field Boundary must be created. (By one of several methods.) Once a Field Boundary has been created in Advantage Acre Plus, all of the Functional Soil Survey layers and all of the WeatherTrends360 Forecasts are automatically applied to create that field’s Productivity Index. No additional input is required.
Before completing a Seed Plan, any user with Advantage Acre Plus may review any information from the Soil Tools to consider the crucial Soil Qualifiers for Placement Insight before choosing seed products for the Seed Plan.
As soon as a Fixed Rate Seed Plan is created in Field Records, it can be switched, in a matter of seconds, to a Variable Rate Prescription (VRx) based upon the Productivity Index, offering Management Insight for that Seed Plan. That VRx map can be used to place Test Blocks in the VRx, as well as placing Test Blocks in a Fixed Rate Prescription (FRx). Test Block Reports offer R.O.I. information on seeding rates in either VRx’s or FRx’s.
Variable Rate Seeding Recommendation (VR) with Test Blocks: Range is 32K to 39K (with Test Blocks) Median Rate is 34.5K (Yellow)
Advantage Acre’s Functional Soil Maps offer greater accuracy for the Soil Qualifiers used for Product Placement, and greater insight into the Decisions made on Product Management, offering our customers optimal performance and greater R.O.I. with LG Seeds.