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01.08.2013 | Original Article | Ausgabe 8/2013

Environmental Earth Sciences 8/2013

Large-scale spatial interpolation of soil pH across the Loess Plateau, China

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 8/2013
Autoren:
Zhi Peng Liu, Ming An Shao, Yun Qiang Wang

Abstract

Soil pH plays an important role in biogeochemical processes in soils. The spatial distribution of soil pH provides basic and useful information relevant to soil management and agricultural production. To obtain an accurate distribution map of soil pH on the Loess Plateau of China, 382 sampling sites were investigated throughout the region and four interpolation methods, i.e., inverse distance weighting (IDW), splines, ordinary kriging, and cokriging, were applied to produce a continuous soil pH surface. In the study region, soil pH values ranged from 6.06 to 10.76, with a mean of 8.49 and a median of 8.48. Land use type had a significant effect (p < 0.01) on soil pH; grassland soils had higher pHs than cropland and forestland soils. From a regional perspective, soil pH showed weak variation and strong spatial dependence, indicated by the low values of the coefficient of variation (0.05) and the nugget-to-sill ratios (<0.25). Indices of cross-validation, i.e., average error, mean absolute error, root mean square error, and model efficiency coefficient were used to compare the performance of the four different interpolation methods. Kriging methods interpolated more accurately than IDW and splines. Cokriging performed better than ordinary kriging and the accuracy was improved using soil organic carbon as an auxiliary variable. Regional distribution maps of soil pH were produced. The southeastern part of the region had relatively low soil pH values, probably due to higher precipitation, leaching, and higher soil organic matter contents. Areas of high soil pH were located in the north of the central part of the region, possibly associated with the salinization of sandy soils under inappropriate irrigation practices in an arid climate. Map accuracy could be further improved using new methods and incorporating other auxiliary variables, such as precipitation, elevation, terrain attributes, and vegetation types.

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