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Agronomy, Soils & Environmental Quality

as a Function of Soil Attributes

Marcos S. Rodrigues,* José E. Corá, Annamaria Castrignanò, Tom G. Mueller, and Eduardo Rienzi

Abstract

Effective site-specific management requires an understanding of the soil and environmental factors influencing crop yield

variability. Moreover, it is necessary to assess the techniques used to define these relationships. The objective of this study was

to assess whether statistical models that accounted for heteroscedastic and spatial-temporal autocorrelation were superior to

ordinary least squares (OLS) models when evaluating the relationship between corn (Zea mays L.) yield and soil attributes in

Brazil. The study site (10 by 250 m) was located in São Paulo State, Brazil. Corn yield (planted with 0.9-m spacing) was measured

in 100 4.5- by 10-m cells along four parallel transects (25 observations per transect) during six growing seasons between 2001

and 2010. Soil chemical and physical attributes were measured. Ordinary least squares, generalized least squares assuming

heteroscedasticity (GLShe), spatial-temporal least squares assuming homoscedasticity (GLSsp), and spatial-temporal assuming

heteroscedasticity (GLShe-sp) analyses were used to estimate corn yield. Soil acidity (pH) was the factor that most influenced corn

yield with time in this study. The OLS model suggested that there would be a 0.59 Mg ha–1 yield increase for each unit increase

in pH, whereas with GLShe-sp there would be a 0.43 Mg ha–1 yield increase, which means that model choice impacted prediction

and regression parameters. This is critical because accurate estimation of yield is necessary for correct management decisions. The

spatial and temporal autocorrelation assuming heteroscedasticity was superior to the OLS model for prediction. Historical data

from several growing seasons should help better identify the cause and effect relationship between crop yield and soil attributes.

crop yield at fine spatial resolutions; however, yield maps

have little or no value unless they can be used for decisions that

that influence crop yield variability can change from year to year

because of seasonal weather variation. For example, Timlin et

al. (1998) found that corn yields were correlated with soil P, K+,

will improve crop and soil management (Pierce and Nowak, and organic matter (OM) content only in dry years in a Typic

1999). Consequently, effective and meaningful spatial analysis of Fragiochrept soil. Bakhsh et al. (2000) pointed out that it may be

yield variability and yield-limiting factors has become a critical necessary to also include climate and management factors in yield

issue throughout the world (McBratney et al., 2005). More- prediction models for detailed diagnosis of yield-limiting factors.

over, yield maps can vary substantially from year to year, so that Regression is one of the most common ways to describe the

analysis of data from only 1 yr might potentially lead to incorrect relationship between crop yield and soil attributes; however, it

decisions. Thus, it is critical to assess the temporal variability and has a number of important assumptions that should be taken

stability of crop yields (McBratney et al., 2005). into account (e.g., normal distribution and independence of

Several factors can affect crop yield variability, such as climate, errors, linearity, lack of collinearity, reliability of measurements,

soil fertility, terrain properties, weeds, and diseases. Numerous and homoscedasticity) (Osborne and Waters, 2002).

studies have found that crop yields are frequently spatially Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, the most common

correlated to soil fertility attributes, but it is critical that these statistical procedure used for yield estimation, assumes normality,

kinds of studies use similar sampling support (Rodrigues et al., independence of errors, and homoscedasticity. Yield residuals,

2012). According to Diker et al. (2004), the dominance of factors however, generally are often spatially autocorrelated (Lark, 2000;

Lobell et al., 2005). If the test statistic does not account for the

M.S. Rodrigues, Univ. Federal do Vale do São Franscisco (UNIVASF), autocorrelation, it will be too large and the probability values too

Campus Ciências Agrárias–BR 407, 12 Lote 543, Projeto de Irrigacão small; therefore, the test will reject more often than it should. Type

Nilo Coelho–S/N C1, 56300-990 Petrolina, PE, Brazil; J.E. Corá, Dep. I errors then tend to increase with OLS when spatial dependence

of Soil Science, Univ. Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Jaboticabal, SP, Brazil,

14884-900; A. Castrignanò, Consiglio per la Ricerca e Sperimentazione in (Schabenberger and Gotway, 2005) and heteroscedasticity are

Agricolture (CRA), Via Celso Ulpiani, N. 5, 70125 Bari, Italy; T.G. Mueller, ignored (Osborne and Waters, 2002). This could lead to critical

Intelligent Solutions Group, John Deere and Company, Urbandale, IA misinterpretation errors of yield variation and consequently lead to

50322; and E. Rienzi, Dep. of Plant and Soil Sciences, Univ. of Kentucky,

Lexington, KY 40546. Received 26 Nov. 2012. *Corresponding author improper management decisions.

(marcos.rodrigues@univasf.edu.br). Spatial dependence structure may change from year to year;

Published in Agron. J. 105:1878–1887 (2013)

therefore, it is critical to investigate crop yield and soil property

doi:10.2134/agronj2012.0456

Copyright © 2013 by the American Society of Agronomy, 5585 Guilford Abbreviations: AIC, Akaike’s information criterion; AICC, Akaike’s

Road, Madison, WI 53711. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may information criterion corrected; BIC, Baysian information criterion; GLShe,

be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or general least squares assuming heteroscedasticity; GLSsp-he, spatial-temporal

mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage assuming heteroscedasticity; GLSsp, spatial-temporal least squares assuming

and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. homoscedasticity; OLS, ordinary least squares; OM, organic matter.

1878 A g ro n o my J o u r n a l • Vo l u m e 10 5 , I s s u e 6 • 2 013

interactions with time. In these situations, generalized least

squares (GLS) regression with correlated errors should be

used (Flinn and De Datta, 1984) because it allows spatial and

temporal error correlation components to be assessed and then

filtered from the total residual term of the model to improve the

power of the statistical tests.

As an alternative to traditional regression analyses, spatial-

temporal mixed effect models could be used, which assume

normally distributed and spatially and temporally correlated

errors and include both fixed and random effects (Bolker et al.,

2009). The study of the spatial-temporal structure of the errors

is very important for monitoring and evaluating crop yield.

Generally, space and time effects are considered separately;

however, interactions are common across spatial and temporal

scales and modeling efforts should account for both effects

simultaneously (Landagan and Barrios, 2007).

Some studies (Hurley et al., 2004; Lambert et al., 2004) have

pointed out that mixed effect models, which incorporate spatial

variability, will help improve the understanding of the factors that

affect crop yield. For example, Hurley et al. (2004) found that

the best model to describe the N response in corn yield was one

that took into account heteroscedasticity and spatial correlation.

There are not many studies, however, that treat spatial-temporal

variability and heteroscedasticity of crop yield in the same model.

Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess whether

statistical models that account for heteroscedasticity and spatial-

temporal autocorrelation are superior to OLS models when

evaluating the relationship between corn yield and soil attributes

in a field in Brazil.

Site Description Fig. 1. Sampling scheme for soil attributes and corn yield in a

Rhodic Hapludox under no-till management.

This experiment was conducted in the city of Jaboticabal, in

São Paulo state, Brazil (21°14¢5² S, 48°17¢9² W, and altitude

of 613 m asl). Climatologically, the area belongs to tropical/ plants had four to six pairs of leaves totally developed. The field

megathermal zone or Köppen Aw (tropical climate with dry was uniformly treated. Corn was harvested about 150 d after

winter and average temperature of the coldest month >18°C). planting with a one-row plot combine that deposited the grain

The mean annual rainfall (1971–2006) is 1417 mm, with the into a burlap bag. Grain weights were obtained for each plot

distribution peaking in the period of October to March and a with a manual balance in the field. The grain for each plot was

relatively dry season in the period of April to September. The subsampled for moisture, and grain yields were determined at

soil of the experimental area was classified as a clayey Rhodic 13% gravimetric moisture.

Hapludox. The experimental area was managed as a corn–fallow Each year, five soil subsamples were collected within each

rotation under no-till management for 12 yr. plot using a Dutch auger (0.1-m depth) and were composited.

One of the soil subsamples was collected in the middle of the

Yield and Soil Sampling and Climatic Data plot and the other four samples were collected 2 m apart from

The size of the experimental area was 18 by 250 m, with the the middle in all four cardinal directions from the centroid. The

longer dimension oriented in the north–south direction. Each area associated with soil measurements (support) was assumed

of the 100 experimental plots had a dimension of 10 by 4.5 m similar to the one for crop yield (45 m2). Each soil composite

and were arranged in a 25 by 4 grid. The experimental scheme is sample was analyzed for particle size (pipette method) (Gee and

depicted in Fig. 1. Or, 2002), pH (1:1 soil/water mixture), OM content (Walkley–

Before planting, nonselective herbicides were applied. Black method), P (ion‐exchange resin), and K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+

Corn (triple-hybrid Syngenta Master) was planted at 65,000 (1 mol L–1 NH4OAc extractable buffered at pH 7) according

plants ha–1 with 0.9-m row spacing in early December during to Page et al. (1982). From the analytical determinations,

the 2001 to 2010 growing seasons, but the data were collected the cation exchange capacity (CEC = K+ + Ca2+ + Mg2+ +

according to the sampling design depicted in Fig. 1 only in the H+ + Al3+) and percentage of soil base saturation [BS = (K+ +

2001–2002, 2002–2003, 2003–2004, 2007–2008, 2008–2009, Ca2+ + Mg2+/CEC) ´ 100] were calculated. These variables

and 2009–2010 growing seasons. The starter fertilization were chosen because they are commonly measured by Brazilian

consisted of 30 kg of N, 70 kg of P2O5, and 50 kg of K 2O ha–1. farmers to characterize soil fertility.

Nitrogen fertilizer (urea) was applied at 100 kg N ha–1 when the

forward selection, each of the available predictors is added if it

meets the statistical criterion of entry, which is the significance

level (P < 0.15) for the increase in the r2 produced by addition

of the predictor. At each step, variables that are already in the

model are first evaluated for removal, and if any are eligible for

removal (P > 0.15), the one whose removal would cause the

least decrease in the r2 is removed. This procedure is repeated

until there are no more predictors that are eligible for entry or

removal.

Four different regression models were compared to assess

the impact of soil attributes and growing seasons (temporal

variability) on corn yield: ordinary least squares (OLS),

generalized least squares assuming heteroscedasticity (GLShe),

spatial-temporal model assuming homoscedasticity (GLSsp), and

spatial-temporal model assuming heteroscedasticity (GLShe-sp)

approaches (Schabenberger and Gotway, 2005) were used.

The standard linear model (OLS) can be written as

p

y i = å x ij bj + e i , i = 1,..., N [1]

j= 1

yield), xij are the observations of p explanatory variables (j),

Fig. 2. Summary of climate data: (a) average monthly rainfall which can be continuous variables (i.e., soil variables) or dummy

values for the period December to April of the studied years

and 30-yr average; and (b) days with rainfall for the period variables declaring class membership of a categorical variable

December to April of the studied years. (i.e., growing season), b i … b p are fixed effect coefficients to be

estimated, and ei are unknown independent and identically

distributed normal random variables with mean 0 and variance

Monthly cumulative rainfall, growing degree days (base s2 .

temperature of 10°C), average temperatures, relative humidity, For convenience and simplicity, Eq. [1] can be written using

and number of days with rainfall were recorded by the matrix notation:

climatological station of São Paulo State University (21°14¢5² S,

48°17¢9² W and altitude of 615 m asl) from December 2001 to Y = Xb + e [2]

April 2010 (Fig. 2). The weather station was located 30 m from

the experimental site. where Y is the vector of the responses, X is the matrix of the

observations, b is the vector of the unknown fixed effect

Preliminary Statistical Analyses coefficients, and e is the vector of the independent and identically

Yield and soil attributes were tested for normality (Shapiro distributed normal random errors, or in symbols: e ? N(0,

and Wilk, 1965), and yield was tested for heteroscedasticity with s2I) where I is an identity matrix. If the error variance s2 is not

Bartlett’s test (Snedecor and Cochran, 1989). Yield was also constant but varies as a function of a class variable (growing

initially tested for spatial autocorrelation with Moran’s I test season), the model is called a generalized least-squares model

(Moran, 1950). Moran’s I test is a weighted correlation coefficient (GLShe).

used to detect departures from spatial randomness, that is, it

determines whether neighboring areas were more similar than Spatial Mixed Effect Model

would be expected under the null hypothesis. Moran’s I test was Many times the independence distributional assumption

used as a generalized measure of spatial autocorrelation because about Y is too restrictive and the linear mixed model extends the

it indicates the presence or absence of a stable pattern of spatial general linear model by allowing elements of Y to be correlated.

dependence by applying to the whole data set (Anselin, 1993). This was performed in two ways: through a specification of

Exploratory stepwise regression analysis was performed to the covariance of e as a function of the distance between two

select the best subset of regressors out of all the study variables locations, say e ? N(0, R), for spatial variability, and the addition

(clay, sand, silt, pH, OM, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, CEC, and BS). The of a random effect and random coefficient in the analysis, giving

final variables selected for the mixed effects model were chosen rise to a Zu term in the model, where u is normal with mean 0

because they performed well with initial testing, they did not and variance G, for temporal variability and Z is a matrix, similar

show collinearity, and they were biophysically meaningful. to X, that captures the complex covariance structure of the

Stepwise selection is similar to the forward method, except that temporal factor.

variables already in the model do not necessarily stay there. In a

The spatial-temporal linear mixed effect model (GLSsp) can hypothesis, ρ = 0 and s2l = 0 with two degrees of freedom, was

then be written as performed. Under the null hypothesis that the spatial model is not

different from the nonspatial model, the likelihood ratio statistic is

Y = Xb + Zu + e

[3] distributed as c2, with the number of degrees of freedom equal to

the difference in the number of parameters between the two models.

where e ? N(0, R), u ? N(0, G), Cov[u, e] = 0, which implies Therefore, because the fixed part is the same in the spatial and

the assumption that u and e are uncorrelated. Differently than b, nonspatial models, only the parameters in the variance–covariance

the vector u does not contain parameters but random variables. structure need to be considered.

The temporal relationship (growing season) was explored by For comparison, the bias, accuracy, and precision of the four

postulating an autoregressive structure of Order 1 for the matrix regression models were assessed by means of leave-one-out cross-

G, which has homogeneous variances and correlations that decline validation using the three cross-validation statistics suggested by

exponentially with the time series. The AR(1) covariance structure Carroll and Cressie (1996) as follows. If Y[i] is the observed corn

has two unknown parameters: the variance (st2) and the lag-one yield value removed at the ith iteration, Ŷ[i] is its corresponding

correlation (ρt). However, a temporal factor was included also in prediction obtained by fitting the model to the remaining N – 1

the model as a fixed effect (growing season) and a dummy variable points, e[i] = Y[i] – Ŷ[i] is the difference between the observed

in the matrix X to assess the systematic or trend component in and estimated values, and s[i] is the mean squared prediction

corn yield variation and then evaluate its stability with time. error of Ŷ[i], then the three cross-validation statistics are

The spatial relationship was modeled by using three different

isotropic covariance functions of the distance, such as spherical,

1 n e [i ]

exponential, and Gaussian (Littell et al., 2006), and adding an CV1 = å

additional parameter (nugget effect) to adequately account for n i=1 s[i ]

abrupt changes across relatively small distances. The resulting 1/2

covariance model has the form æ 1 n e [2i ] ö÷ [4]

CV2 = ççç å 2 ÷÷

çè n i=1 s[ i ] ÷ø

Var [e i ] = s2 +s12

1/2

æ1 n ö

CV3 = çç å e [2i ] ÷÷÷

Cov éëêe i , e j ùûú = s2 éêf (d ij )ùú çè n i=1 ø

ë û

where f(dij) is one of the geostatistical spatial covariance The CV1 was used to assess the unbiasedness of the predictor,

functions of distance dij between two observations i and j, and the optimal value should be approximately zero; CV2 was

using a parameter ρ for the spatial scale (range) and sl2 and used to assess the accuracy of the mean squared prediction error

s2 + sl2 corresponding to the geostatistical parameters nugget and should be approximately 1; CV3 was used to check the

and sill, respectively. The fitting process relies on an iterative goodness of prediction, and models with smaller values of CV3

procedure aimed at maximizing the log likelihood of the should be preferred because this means that fitted values are close

data by the restricted maximum likelihood method (REML) to the observed values (Carroll and Cressie, 1996).

(Littell et al., 2006). The fixed effects estimates are obtained All statistical analyses in this study were computed with SAS

as generalized least squares estimates evaluated at the REML (release 9.3, SAS Institute) and the linear spatial mixed effect

estimate of the covariance parameters. A further complexity in model was estimated with the PROC MIXED procedure (see

the spatial-temporal model was added by allowing crop yield the appendix).

variance to vary across the growing seasons because it can cause

heterogeneity in the covariance structure. The whole analysis RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

was then repeated using a different set of covariance function Description of Soil Attributes across Years

parameters for each growing season (GLShe-sp). All soil fertility data were classified as low, medium, or

high according to the criteria determined by Raij et al. (1997)

Model Comparison for the state of Sao Paulo as reported below for each variable.

To compare the different competing spatial covariance The soil base saturation values were medium (51–70%) in the

models, their modeling criteria were compared: the best model 2001–2002 and 2002–2003 growing seasons and low (26–50%)

was selected as the one whose –2 log likelihood, Akaike’s in the 2003–2004, 2007–2008, 2008–2009, and 2009–2010

information criterion (AIC), Akaike’s information criterion growing season. The levels of soil K+ (1.6–3.0 mmolc L–1) as

corrected (AICC), and Schwarz’s Bayesian information criterion well as the soil P levels were medium (16–40 mg L–1) in all the

(BIC) were the smallest (Littell et al., 2006). study years. The levels of soil Ca2+ were high (>7 mmolc L–1) in

Each model with no spatial correlation (OLS and GLShe), i.e., all study years, whereas soil Mg2+ was high (>8 mmolc L) in the

with R = s2I, was compared with the corresponding homoscedastic 2001–2002, 2002–2003, and 2003–2004 seasons and medium

(GLSsp) and heteroscedastic (GLShe-sp) spatial model with nugget (5–8 mmolc L–1) in 2007–2008, 2008–2009, and 2009–2010.

effect, respectively, whose R = s2F+ s2I, where F is an N ´ N Medium values of pH (5.1–5.5) were observed in the 2001–2002

matrix whose ijth element is f(dij). Because F reduces to I if the and 2002–2003 seasons and low values (4.4–5.0) in 2003–2004,

spatial parameter ρ = 0 and sl2 = 0, to compare the –2 log likelihood 2007–2008, 2008–2009, and 2009–2010. Medium soil OM

for spatial and nonspatial models, a likelihood ratio test for the null contents were observed in all years. Most variables showed large

variability on the basis of their range of variation. In general, coefficients (GS 1–6), which represent the specific contribution

the soil fertility variables were not normally distributed and of each season to the overall yield average.

coefficients of asymmetry and kurtosis varied across years. This The goodness-of-fit statistics (i.e., –2 log likelihood, AIC,

did not prevent regression analyses, however, because normality AICC, and BIC) differed among the models, which were

is a requirement only for the response variable. The clay contents ordered as follows: OLS > GLShe > GLSsp > GLShe-sp (smaller

(mean = 332 g kg–1, standard deviation = 19 g kg–1) and sand is better) (Table 3). This order was established on the basis of the

contents (mean = 623 g kg–1, standard deviation = 17 g kg–1) of values of at least three out of the four criteria being consistent.

the surface samples did not vary substantially throughout the If the BIC had been the only one used to compare the models,

experimental area and were considered normally distributed OLS would have been considered better than GLShe, whereas

according to the Shapiro–Wilk test. The soil was classified as a a different conclusion was determined on the basis of the

sandy clay loam according to the USDA texture method. other criteria. This result confirmed warnings that multiple

criteria should be considered when comparing models (Littell

Preliminary Statistical Analyses for Corn Yield et al., 2006). The likelihood ratio test of spatial covariance was

Corn yields ranged from 6.0 to 7.6 Mg ha–1 (Table 1) and significant (P < 0.001) when the nonspatial homoscedastic

showed normal data distribution in all years excepted the 2003– (OLS) and heteroscedastic (GLShe) models were compared

2004 and 2008–2009 growing seasons, as indicated by the with the corresponding spatial models (GLSsp and GLShe-sp),

Shapiro–Wilk test (Table 1). Their coefficients of skewness and respectively, showing that the structured component of spatial

kurtosis were close to zero, however, indicating no substantial dependence was significant at the study site (Table 4). The results

departure from normality, and the yield was then assumed to be of the cross-validation analyses showed that the better model was

normal. Bartlett’s test was significant at P < 0.001, indicating the GLShe-sp in terms of unbiasedness (CV1), accuracy (CV2),

heteroscedasticity of the corn yield with time, which was treated and precision (CV3) of the prediction (Table 5), confirming the

in this study by fitting different spatial models of covariance results of the goodness-of-fit statistics (Table 3). Moreover, the

function differing in sill and range parameters. Moran’s I test results obtained for the GLShe-sp model can be considered very

was also significant (P < 0.001), indicating spatial association. satisfactory because the CV1 was zero (up to four digits), CV2

The best subset of soil variables selected by stepwise regression was quite close to 1 (0.92), and CV3 was less than the standard

included pH, K+, P, and clay content (data not shown), which deviation of corn yield in any season (Table 1). These results

were used as soil regressors into the mixed effect. demonstrated that spatial-temporal models that account for

The spatial and temporal changes in corn grain yield are heteroscedasticity of variance were more reliable than other

reported in Fig. 3. In general, the data showed a slight decrease crop prediction models. Additionally, the results of residual

in corn yield from south to north. In the last 3 yr, it is possible analyses for the best model (GLShe-sp) showed that the residual

to verify clearly that there is a low-corn-yield zone in the north had a mean close to 0 and standard deviation close to 1 (Fig. 4).

region (between 190 and 230 m) because there probably was a A histogram and a Q–Q plot indicated that the residuals were

low-soil-fertility zone in this region of the study area. normal, whereas the scattergram of the residuals vs. estimates

showed no trend (Fig. 4). These results further suggest that this

Linear and Spatial Mixed Effect Models Analyses model was not biased and the assumptions (Osborne and Waters,

The variables K+ and P were not significant (P > 0.05) for 2002) required for regression analysis were confirmed.

all the mixed effect models tested, whereas clay content was The estimated coefficients for fixed effects of the GLShe-sp

not significant in the models that took heteroscedasticity into model of grain yield are given in Table 2, showing that among

account (i.e., GLShe and GLShe-sp) (Table 2). This last result the soil attributes, only pH has a significant impact on yield

indicates that ignoring heteroscedasticity can distort the results because the main factor that impacts crop yields in most

and increase the possibility of falsely declaring significant effects Brazilian agricultural fields is soil acidity (Amado et al., 2009;

(i.e., Type I errors) (Osborne and Waters, 2002), which indicated Dalchiavon et al., 2011; Nogara et al., 2011). This can be

that accounting for heteroscedasticity of variance was critical in explained because low pH values are often associated with high

this study, in agreement with the results observed by Lambert et Al3+ contents in Latosols (Oxisols according to the U.S. soil

al. (2004) and Hurley et al. (2004). Soil pH was significant for taxonomy), which are prevalent throughout many of the cropped

all the models, indicating that in all the study growing seasons, regions of Brazil (Muniz et al., 2011). Crop season had a large

the spatial variability of corn yield was highly correlated with soil impact on yield, as indicated by the significant coefficients for

acidity (Table 2). year that varied substantially with time. This variability can

The covariance function that best described the spatial be ascribed to the total amount of rainfall and distribution of

dependence was the spherical model. The two parameters (st2 rainfall (days with rain) in March, as confirmed by correlating

and ρt) of the AR(1) model were not significant at P < 0.05 (data the average values of corn yield to the amount of rainfall in

not shown) in the GLSsp and GLShe-sp models. This indicated March (R2 = 0.58) and the distribution of rainfall in March

that the stochastic component of temporal variability of corn (R2 = 0.71). March is a critical month for corn in São Paulo state,

yield was not significantly different than 0, thus temporal Brazil, because it corresponds with the period in which corn is in

observations could be considered to be uncorrelated; however, its milky/dough stage and water stress may be critical.

the temporal fixed effect (i.e., growing season) was highly Growing season (temporal variability) was a significant effect

significant for all the models (Table 2). The temporal effect was in the GLShe-sp model as well as in all the other models, causing

considered to be a deterministic process, and yield was not stable a different coefficient for each year. The full spatial and temporal

during the six-season study period as shown by the changing nature of the model prevented us from testing the significance of

Table 1. Descriptive statistics for corn yield (Mg ha –1) during six growing season in a Rhodic Hapludox under no-till management.

Growing season Mean SD Min. Max. Skewness Kurtosis Pr < W†

2001–2002 7.6 0.50 6.3 8.6 –0.35 0.08 0.20

2002–2003 7.0 0.54 5.7 8.3 –0.20 –0.20 0.51

2003–2004 6.0 0.49 5.3 7.3 0.96 0.64 0.00

2007–2008 7.3 0.83 5.4 9.0 –0.14 –0.73 0.11

2008–2009 7.8 0.78 5.6 8.8 –0.91 0.25 0.00

2009–2010 6.9 0.75 5.4 8.6 –0.10 –0.49 0.53

† Pr < W, result of Shapiro–Wilk normality test (P < W > 0.10).

Fig. 3. Corn yield mean of four transects from each reference point of the studied years. Error bars represent the standard error of

the mean (n = 4 transects) for each reference point.

Table 2. Tests of fixed effects of ordinary least squares (OLS), generalized least squares assuming heteroscedasticity (GLShet),

spatial model assuming homoscedasticity (GLSsp), and spatial model assuming heteroscedasticity (GLS he-sp) approaches used to

assess the impact of soil properties and growing seasons (GS) from 2001–2002 to 2009–2010 on corn yield. (From the visual inspec-

tion of this table, it is clear that the only coefficient estimates varying with time are the ones related to growing seasons, whereas

the coefficients related to the soil parameters are constant.)

Statistic pH Clay GS 1 GS 2 GS 3 GS 4 GS 5 GS 6

OLS

Estimate 0.5901 0.00355 3.2899 2.7033 1.7551 3.2758 3.833 3.0939

SE 0.07302 0.00165 0.5106 0.5128 0.5143 0.5058 0.5049 0.5022

df 473 473 473 473 473 473 473 473

Pr > |t| <0.0001 0.0314 <0.0001 <0.0001 0.0007 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

Lower 95% CL 0.4466 0.0003 2.2867 1.6957 0.7445 2.2819 2.841 2.107

Upper 95% CL 0.7335 0.0068 4.2932 3.7109 2.7656 4.2696 4.8251 4.0808

GLShet

Estimate 0.5224 0.0007 4.578 3.9884 3.0377 4.5409 5.0899 4.3349

SE 0.06485 0.00155 0.4683 0.4704 0.4721 0.4696 0.4693 0.4663

df 473 473 473 473 473 473 473 473

Pr > |t| <0.0001 0.6334 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

Lower 95% CL 0.395 –0.00231 3.6578 3.0642 2.11 3.6182 4.1677 3.4185

Upper 95% CL 0.6498 0.003785 5.4982 4.9127 3.9654 5.4636 6.0121 5.2512

GLSsp

Estimate 0.2971 0.004709 4.6071 3.942 2.9365 4.3961 4.8854 4.123

SE 0.0852 0.002391 0.8328 0.8303 0.8288 0.8207 0.8164 0.814

df 375 91.7 84.2 84.5 84.8 82.7 82.1 81.9

Pr > |t| 0.0005 0.0519 <0.0001 <0.0001 0.0006 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

Lower 95% CL 0.1295 –0.00004 2.9511 2.291 1.2885 2.7636 3.2614 2.5037

Upper 95% CL 0.4646 0.009458 6.2631 5.593 4.5845 6.0286 6.5094 5.7423

GLShe-sp

Estimate 0.4343 0.00177 4.7604 4.1788 3.3036 4.7121 5.1693 4.4624

SE 0.06993 0.001882 0.6423 0.6364 0.6522 0.6652 0.6354 0.6761

df 279 118 96.4 105 69.4 103 114 59.7

Pr > |t| <0.0001 0.3487 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

Lower 95% CL 0.2967 –0.00196 3.4856 2.917 2.0026 3.3928 3.9106 3.1098

Upper 95% CL 0.572 0.005497 6.0353 5.4406 4.6045 6.0315 6.4279 5.8149

Table 3. Model fit statistics of likelihood ratio test (–2 Res Table 5. Cross-validation errors including unbiasedness of

log.), Akaike’s information criterion (AIC), Akaike’s informa- the predictor (CV1), accuracy of mean squared prediction er-

tion criterion corrected (AICC), and Schwarz’s Bayesian in- ror (CV2), and goodness of prediction (CV3) of ordinary least

formation criterion (smaller is better) (BIC) for the ordinary squares (OLS), generalized least squares assuming homosce-

least squares (OLS), generalized least squares assuming het- dasticity (GLS he), spatial model assuming homoscedastic-

eroscedasticity (GLS he), spatial model assuming homoscedas- ity (GLSsp), and spatial model assuming heteroscedasticity

ticity (GLSsp), and spatial model assuming heteroscedasticity (GLS he-sp) approaches used to assess the impact of soil attri-

(GLS he-sp) approaches used to assess the impact of soil attri- butes and growing seasons on corn yield.

butes and growing seasons on corn yield. Model fitted CV1 CV2 CV3

Model –2 Res log. AIC AICC BIC Mg ha–1

OLS 899.3 901.3 901.3 905.5 OLS –0.1295 53.76 0.559

GLShe 869.6 881.6 881.7 906.6 GLShe –0.0348 55.62 0.559

GLSsp 869.2 875.2 875.2 887.7 GLSsp –0.0093 0.91 0.538

GLShe-sp 781.3 811.3 812.4 808.2 GLShe-sp 0.0000 0.92 0.489

ordinary least squares (OLS) and the spatial model assum-

ing homoscedasticity (GLSsp), and between generalized least

squares assuming heteroscedasticity (GLS he) and the spatial

model assuming heteroscedasticity (GLS he-sp) used to assess

the impact of spatial and temporal error correlation on corn

yield. All data are significant at P < 0.001.

Models df c2 Pr > c2

OLS vs. GLSsp 2 30.1 0.001

GLShe vs. GLShe-sp 2 87.9 0.001

Fig. 4. Results of residual statistics for corn yield using a spatial-temporal model assuming heteroscedasticity (GLS he-sp).

the impact of individual climate variables (e.g., rainfall, growing spatial autocorrelation in this study had a larger impact on the pH

degree days, or humidity) on corn yield because only one datum parameter estimate than did accounting for heterogeneity of errors.

was recorded for each season. Moreover, the model failed to The literature suggests that Type I errors in OLS models

reach convergence with these regressors. To explore these can result from violations of the assumptions of independent

relationships, we propose that a study be conducted across a large observations (Schabenberger and Gotway, 2005) and

area and with a longer historical yield data set. homoscedasticity (Osborne and Waters, 2002). The significance

Our results stress also that it is critical to account for temporal (i.e., OLS) and near significance (i.e., GLSsp) of clay in the

variation of the most dynamic soil attributes on a fine spatial models (Table 2) that assumed homoscedasticity were considered

scale because they can be influenced by climate factors between to be or nearly be Type I errors because clay was clearly not

the growing seasons. Hence, the relationships between crop significant in the models that accounted for heteroscedasticity

yield and these soil attributes may become extremely variable (i.e., GLShe and GLShe-sp), and the GLShe-sp model was assumed

across the seasons, as confirmed by Lambert et al. (2006), who to be most accurate. It is important to note, however, that the

observed spatial and temporal variability of corn yield response coefficient for clay in the OLS and GLSsp models was only

(relationship) to P and N in a 5-yr corn–soybean [Glycine max 0.004 and 0.005 Mg ha–1 corn yield, respectively. Experienced

(L.) Merr.] rotation in Minnesota. Therefore, it is recommended agronomists would have correctly concluded that this effect was

that farms use a set of data collected over time not only for yield biologically insignificant.

data but also for the most temporally variable soil attributes to The novelty of this study consists in splitting the whole variation

better understand the cause–effect relationships. of yield into the different components: the deterministic and

stochastic components of variation in both space and time. The

Practical Implications of Model Selection approach is of the regressive type, but taking into account error

Model choice impacted prediction and regression coefficient correlation and its heteroscedasticity, estimated by using different

estimates, and this is critical above all for the soil attributes affected mathematical models. Actually, there are not many studies in

by management. For example, the OLS model suggested that there the scientific literature that have performed such an exhaustive

would be a 0.59 Mg ha–1 yield increase for each unit increase in pH analysis of yield variation. The only limitation of the work is

(see the parameter estimate in Table 2). This prediction by the OLS that the estimation model cannot be considered as a full spatial-

model was significantly different from that of the GLSsp model temporal model due to the small size of the field. Meteorological

(0.30 Mg ha–1) and that of the GLShe-sp model (0.43 Mg ha–1), as variables, such as rainfall, expected to impact yield were not

confirmed by comparing the confidence limits of the pH coefficient repeatedly measured at any sample location but were assumed

estimates of the corresponding models (Table 2). Accounting for

as constant across the field. This precluded estimation of the MODEL Yield=PH Clay P K Year

interaction term of soil ´ climate. /Cl S noint outpred=pred_

SOLS

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS DDFM=SATTERTH

The heteroscedastic spatial-temporal autocorrelation model ;

(GLShe-sp) was superior to the other models (OLS, GLShe, random year/Type=AR(1) subject=ID;

and GLSsp) for analyzing yield–soil attributes relationships as Repeated/subject=intercept Type=sp(sph)

determined with cross-validation analysis. This study supports (X Y) local;

parms (0.064) (53) (0.291);

the modeling of spatial residual errors and accounting for

;

heterogeneity of the variance with time to obtain more accurate

estimates of treatment effects for interpreting yield variation. Soil

/*4–Spatial-temporal model assuming

acidity, as assessed by pH, was the soil effect that most influenced

heteroscedasticity (GLShe-sp)*/

corn yield with time in this study. The full spatial and temporal

PROC MIXED DATA=DataSet

nature of the model prevented testing the significance of the PLOTS(ONLY)=ALL

impact of climate variables on yield; however, it was possible to METHOD=REML covtest SCORING=50;

verify the impact of the total amount and distribution of rainfall ;

in March on yield. Farms should use a sufficiently long historical CLASS Year ID

data set of crop yield and soil attributes to understand cause– ;

effect relationships between crop yield and soil attributes and to MODEL Yield=PH Clay P K Year

predict crop yield accurately. /Cl S noint outpred=pred_

SGLS

Appendix DDFM=SATTERTH

For the variables soil pH, clay content, P content, K content, ;

and growing season or year: random year/Type=AR(1) subject=ID;

/*1–Ordinary least squares (OLS)*/ Repeated/Type=SP(sph)(X Y)

PROC MIXED covtest DATA=DataSet subject=intercept local group=Year;

PLOTS(ONLY)=ALL parms (0.3) (0.18) (0.040) (57) (0.054)

; (39) (0.061) (127) (0.468) (44) (0.351)

CLASS Year ID (24) (0.248) (58) (0.175);;

;

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

MODEL Yield=PH Clay P K Year

/Cl S noint outpred=pred_ We are grateful for a scholarship (Grant 8492-11-5) to M.S. Rodrigues

OLS; from CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasília.

;

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