Field-scale validation of an automated soil nitrate extraction and measurement system

K.J. Sibley, T. Astatkie, G. Brewster, P.C. Struik, J.F. Adsett, K. Pruski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


One of the many gaps that needs to be solved by precision agriculture technologies is the availability of an economic, automated, on-the-go mapping system that can be used to obtain intensive and accurate ‘real-time’ data on the levels of nitrate nitrogen (NO3–N) in the soil. A soil nitrate mapping system (SNMS) has been developed to provide a way to collect such data. This study was done to provide extensive field-scale validation testing of the system’s nitrate extraction and measurement sub-unit (NEMS) in two crop (wheat and carrot) production systems. Field conditions included conventional tillage (CT) versus no tillage (NT), inorganic versus organic fertilizer application, four soil groups and three points in time throughout the season. Detailed data analysis showed that: (i) the level of agreement, as measured by root mean squared error (RMSE), mean absolute error (MAE) and coefficient of efficiency (CE), between NEMS soil NO3–N and standard laboratory soil NO3–N measurements was excellent; (ii) at the field-scale, there was little practical difference when using either integer or real number data processing; (iii) regression equations can be used to enable field measurements of soil NO3–N using the NEMS to be obtained with laboratory accuracy; (iv) future designs of the SNMS’s control system can continue to use cheaper integer chip technology for processing the nitrate ion-selective electrode (NO3 -–ISE) readings; and (v) future designs of the SNMS would not need a soil moisture sensor, ultimately saving on manufacturing costs of a more simple system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-174
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • carrot production system
  • monitoring-system
  • nitrogen

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