Robertson, G. P. 1994. The impact of soil and crop management practices on soil spatial heterogeneity. Pages 156-161 in C. E. Pankhurse, B. M. Doube, V. V. Gupta, and P. R. Grace, eds. Soil Biota Management in Sustainable Farming Systems. CSIRO, East Melbourne, Australia.

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Little is known about the potential impact of crop and soil management practices on the spatial variability of soil organisms and the processes they mediate. In fact, little is known about patterns of within-field variability even in the absence of management impact assessments. For the few systems where information is available, however, we know that within-field variability is often as high as between-field variability, that populations and processes tend to be patchily distributed, and that most populations and processes are autocorrelated at scales of <100 m. New geostatistical approaches for quantifying variability provide promise for better understanding variability and its underlying causes in a variety of cropping systems, and this information will be a prerequisite for understanding the relationship between variability and agronomic management. The need for this understanding will become more pressing as variable input farm equipment becomes commercially available and producers move to soil-specific farming strategies.

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