Economic and environmental evaluation of variable rate nitrogen and lime application for claypan soil fields

Dechun Wang, Tony Prato, Zeyuan Qiu, Newell R. Kitchen, Kenneth A. Sudduth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Variable Rate Technology (VRT) has the potential to increase crop yields and improve water quality relative to Uniform Rate Technology (URT). The effects on profitability and water quality of adopting VRT for nitrogen (N) and lime were evaluated for corn production on four claypan soil fields in north central Missouri under average to better than average weather conditions. Variable N and lime rates were based on measured topsoil depth and soil pH, respectively. VRT rates were compared to two different uniform N applications (URT-NI based on the topsoil depth within these claypan soil fields, and URT-N2 based on a typical N rate for corn production in this area). Expected corn yield was predicted based on topsoil depth, soil pH, N rate, and lime rate. Water quality benefits of VRT relative to URT were evaluated based on potential leachable N. Sensitivity analyses were performed using simulated topsoil data for topsoil depth and soil pH. Results showed that VRT was more profitable than URT in the four sample fields under URT-NI. and in two of the four fields under URT-N2. Greater variation in topsoil depth and soil pH resulted in higher profitability and greater water quality benefits with VRT. Results support adoption of VRT for N and lime application for other claypan soil fields with characteristics similar to those in the fields used in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-52
Number of pages18
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Claypan soils
  • Profitability
  • Variable rate technology
  • Water quality


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