Spatial and temporal variability of corn grain yield: Site-specific relationships of biotic and abiotic factors

S. Machado, E. D. Bynum, T. L. Archer, R. J. Lascano, L. T. Wilson, J. Bordovsky, E. Segarra, K. Bronson, D. M. Nesmith, W. Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Inadequate information on factors affecting crop yield variability has contributed to the slow adoption of site-specific farming (SSF). This study was conducted to determine the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the spatial and temporal variability of irrigated corn grain yields and to derive information useful for SSF. The effects of water (80% evapotranspiration (ET) and 50% ET), hybrid (drought-tolerant and -susceptible), elevation, soil index (SI)(texture), soil NO3-N, arthropods, and diseases on corn grain yield were investigated at Halfway, TX on geo-referenced locations. Grain yields were influenced by interrelationships among biotic and abiotic factors. Grain yields were consistently high under high water treatment, at higher elevations, and on soils with high SI (high clay and silt). Soil NO3-N increased grain yields when water was adequate. Management zones for variable rate fertilizer and water application should, therefore, be based on information on elevation, SI, and soil NO3-N. The effects of arthropods, diseases, and crop stress (due to drought and N) on corn grain yield were unpredictable. Spider mite (Oligonychus pratensis) and common smut (Ustilago zeae) damage occurred under hot and dry conditions in 1998. Spider mite infestations were high in areas with high soil NO3-N. Moderate air temperatures and high relative humidity in 1999 favored southwestern corn borer (Diatraea grandiosella) and common rust (Puccinia maydis) incidences. Knowledge of conditions that favor arthropods and diseases outbreak and crop stress can improve the efficiency of scouting and in-season management of SSF. Management of SSF can be improved when effects of biotic and abiotic factors on grain yield are integrated and evaluated as a system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number360023
Pages (from-to)359-376
Number of pages18
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000


  • Differential global positioning system (DGPS)
  • Geographical information system (GIS)
  • Site-specific farming (SSF)
  • Soil index (SI)
  • Variable rate technology (VRT)


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