How representatively can we sample soil mineral nitrogen?

Antje Giebel, Ole Wendroth, Hannes Isaak Reute, Kurt Christian Kersebaum, Jürgen Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Spatial distribution of soil mineral-N content (Nmin) is a scale-variant process. Precision farming assumes knowledge about the spatial distribution of Nmin. Moreover, sampling in management zones is based on the assumption of spatial dependence between sampling points. In the present study, variability structure of Nmin and the sources of variability were investigated. Within an agricultural landscape, Nmin was investigated across a field in a nested design over four consecutive years. Temporally unstable structure of individual nests require a sampling with several nests in the field. In the investigated field, 35%-49% of the total variability derived from small-scale variability observed at spatial distances of <5 m and from sampling and analytical errors. Differences between 10 and 26 kg N ha-1 for the soil depth increment 0-60 cm can be expected. Uncertainty due to analytical errors were in the order of 5-10 kg N ha -1 for a 0-60 cm layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Geostatistics
  • Measurement accuracy
  • Nested sampling
  • Soil mineral nitrogen
  • Spatial representativeness
  • Spatial variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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