Correlation of corn and soybean grain yield with topography and soil properties

Alexandra N. Kravchenko, Donald G. Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analysis of yield variability is an important issue in agricultural research, and topographical land features are among the most important yield-affecting factors. The objective of this study was to determine how useful topographical information can be, alone or together with selected soil properties, for explaining yield variability on a field scale. Yield-topography-soil relationships were analyzed using dense corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] yield data collected from 1994 to 1997, a detailed terrain map, and relatively densely sampled soil organic matter (OM) content, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and P and K soil test concentrations from eight fields in central Illinois and eastern Indiana. Soils of the Illinois fields were classified as Haplaquolls and Argiudolls; soils of the Indiana fields were classified as Hapludalfs. Topographical land features used in the study included elevation, measured with survey grid global positioning system (GPS) and land-based laser, and slope, curvature, and flow accumulation, derived from elevation data. Soil properties explained about 30% of yield variability (from 5 to 71% for different fields), with OM content influencing yield the most. The cumulative effect of the topographical features explained about 20% of the yield variability (6-54%). Elevation had the most influence on yield, with higher yields consistently observed at lower landscape positions. Curvature, slope, and flow accumulation significantly affected yield only in certain conditions, such as extreme topographical locations (undrained depressions or eroded hilltops) combined with very high or low precipitation. Soil properties and topography explained about 40% of yield variability (10-78%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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