Transferability of a soil variogram for sampling design: A case study of three grasslands in Ireland

Xiao Lin Sun, Dick J. Brus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is commonly accepted that an estimated soil variogram can be transferred to another similar area for deriving the tolerable spacing of a sampling grid or, more generally, the sample size, given a requirement on the quality of the soil property map of the recipient area. The quality of the derived tolerable grid spacing depends on how similar the population variograms of the donor area and recipient area are. In practice we are uncertain about the variograms of both areas due to sampling errors. Ideally, the uncertainty about the variogram of the donor area is accounted for in deriving the tolerable grid spacing. To assess the transferability, we should also account for uncertainty in the estimated variogram of the recipient area. In this study the transferability of variograms of soil pH, P, Mg and K is analysed for three grassland fields in Ireland, which are similar in soil-forming factors. One field served as donor area, the other two as recipient area. For all three fields and for each soil property, 500 variograms were sampled from the posterior distribution of the variogram parameters. Results showed that the estimated variogram parameters of the recipient fields differed largely from those of the transferred variograms. The ranges of estimated mean kriging variance values for the various grid spacings, as obtained with the two sets of variograms (one set of the donor field, one set of the recipient field), did not overlap. Even after scaling the transferred variogram with an estimate of the variance of the recipient field, the transferred variogram was of no use for determining the tolerable grid spacing. The difference in the variograms can possibly be explained by the difference in historical land use. Highlights: Transferability of variograms to derive tolerable grid spacing for mapping grassland fields is assessed Transferability should be based on the uncertainty distributions of the tolerable grid spacings Due to difference in historical land use, local and transferred variograms differed largely Transferability of a variogram is very poor, even after scaling the transferred variogram.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2020


  • grid spacing
  • mapping
  • MCMC
  • precision agriculture
  • sample size

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Transferability of a soil variogram for sampling design: A case study of three grasslands in Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this