Public-Private Collaboration Builds Soil Mapping Data to Explain Yield Variability

Public-Private Collaboration Builds Soil Mapping Data to Explain Yield Variability

University of Missouri, USDA-ARS and DuPont Pioneer collaborate on Environmental Response Unit soil maps

In February, the University of Missouri, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, and DuPont Pioneer announced plans to pool soil mapping resources and collaborate on predictive technologies and expertise.

The collaboration offers growers a step-change in sustainable crop production through better recommendations for nitrogen application management and other field input planning.

A team at the University of Missouri and USDA-ARS used yield data from more than 400 corn fields in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana to compare county soil maps with Environmental Response Unit maps developed in collaboration with DuPont Pioneer.

University of Missouri, USDA-ARS and DuPont Pioneer collaborate on Environmental Response Unit soil maps

ERUs are high-resolution soil mapping units that can then be used to develop a variety of management zones for individual fields or larger tracts of land.

"The study found that ERU maps provided better representation of corn yield environments than soil maps did in 80% of the fields," said Brent Myers, Ph.D., an agronomist with the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. "This indicates that Environmental Response Units provide growers with a better base on which to develop management programs, including nitrogen/fertility, water and seed."

Related: DuPont Pioneer to Partner with Land-Grant Universities on Nitrogen Project

The collaboration is building on the 80-year library of field-level soil data known as SSURGO (Soil Survey Geographic database), which is produced and distributed by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The project uses proprietary analytics from DuPont Pioneer and expertise in soil characterization, topography and watersheds from University of Missouri and USDA-ARS, in combination with high-resolution elevation data to better explain yield variability.

The resulting ERUs produced from the collaboration significantly improve an already valuable public soil database through use of high-resolution topographical attributes, while also retaining important information from the database such as soil depth, texture, organic matter and water holding capacity – all factors that can dramatically impact crop productivity and input management.

ERUs are used exclusively by DuPont Pioneer in its Encirca Yield input management services, which helps growers limit losses from inexact nitrogen applications and secure more profit from each acre.

To learn more, visit Pioneer's Encirca website.

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