Topsoil Mapper: soil structure and moisture regime evaluation. MAS Seeds experience

One of the main tasks for crop breeders is to appropriately determine the hybrid potential. However, if soil properties are not taken into account, the conclusions about a particular cultivar will not be accurate and perhaps even erroneous.

The MAS Seeds Company has been working on their own hybrids breeding for more than 50 years. Every year, the company creates and tests new hybrids. It has a breeding and development department in Ukraine as well.

Soil properties are important parameters for crop breeders

In Ukraine, hybrids are laid in different regions. This is done to receive more accurate data. The sites, however, have to be compatible with strict requirements. They have to be even and homogeneous by the soil type and moisture regime. That is why the soil structure examination and the moisture regime determination at the selected site is an important activity ensuring the accuracy of the results received.

The breeding business implies such a notion as duplication when two identical sets of hybrids are sown on two different plots. If the emergence and yield results are highly divergent for a certain hybrid, crop breeders reject it. For this reason, it is extremely important to know that the conditions were identical on both growing plots.

Topsoil Mapper – an efficient system used to determine soil properties

To breed certain varieties of hybrids, crop breeders have to work 8 to 10 years. If they have information on the soil properties and moisture regime, they know for sure that the low yields issue is not with the hybrid but with the environmental conditions. If the soil is alright, crop breeders will safely “sort out” the hybrid failing to show necessary potential.

Let’s imagine the circumstances that the hybrid was alright, and the first duplication was good as well. But the bad soil in the duplication case has led to the fact that this cultivar had poor emergence. It showed a high divergence degree and was rejected. But if the soil had been better, the hybrid would have grown well. So, it’s possible, we’ve lost a hybrid that could show its worth very well. That’s exactly why it is so important to conduct a precise analysis of the conditions in which a certain cultivar is tested.

We had several options to determine soil properties. But it was exactly SmartFarming who offered us the best solution. It was right what we were interested in: filed soil structure and moisture regime evaluation. Topsoil Mapper is a fairly efficient system used to determine soil properties,

Igor Parkhomenko, the specialist in the R & D department of the MAS Seeds Ukraine Company, engaged in experimental hybrid growing

Previously, the company’s experts used field maps and soil agrochemical analysis indicators. However, at times, the company didn’t have even those data – it was too expensive. Consequently, farmers may not want to conduct appropriate examinations.

For MAS Seeds, fields were scanned in four Ukrainian locations: Kyiv, Cherkasy, ​​Chernihiv and Sumy regions. The area of ​​the separate plots examined was 8 to 10 ha.

The scan results are a point vector layer which is constructed based on data from four Topsoil Mapper coils which scan the soil to different depths – 50, 70, 90, and 110 cm.

Growing plot processing map developed with Topsoil Mapper

Growing plot processing map developed with Topsoil Mapper – a point layer

After the data received were processed using the Topsoil Mapper software developed by the GEOPROSPECTORS Company, the following indices were obtained:

  • soil structure values obtained at different depths (for each scanner coil);
  • averaged values for soil structure differences;
  • moisture regime indices;
  • depth values at which the soil becomes more compact;
  • data for optimal tillage depth.

Maps received as a result of soil scan using Topsoil Mapper

Maps received as a result of soil scan using Topsoil Mapper

Using the specialized software, the data received are restructured into formats convenient for future use.

We’ve collected all the data from Topsoil Mapper into one set and developed vector maps. We’ve got zoning maps, maps showing differences in soil structure, soil moisture regime maps (in percentage terms), soil compaction maps, and maps showing plots requiring deep tillage,

Vadim Ostapenko, the specialist of SmartFarming

The soil moisture regime map obtained by scanning using Topsoil Mapper with subsequent collected data analysis

The soil moisture regime map obtained by scanning using Topsoil Mapper with subsequent collected data analysis

Topsoil Mapper doesn’t determine the soil type – sand or loam, for example. We can only find out the soil heterogeneity. As a whole, our solution has provided the MAS Seeds Company with a set of supplementary data necessary to conduct high-quality analytics on hybrid cultivars. They will be able to study the factors which have affected the yields received from a particular cultivar in a particular location,

Vadim Ostapenko, the specialist of SmartFarming

The video below shows the scanning procedure using Topsoil Mapper.

For crop breeders, soil structure and moisture regime are the most important parameters. However, farmers are also interested in the tillage pan depth and the specific values ​​applicable for tillage depth. They will help to optimize the costs necessary to conduct the appropriate production operation.

Using this information, agribusinesses will be able to perform effective tillage, apply fertilizers and PPP more efficiently, and develop more precise field yield plans. All these advantages will eventually result in better income and expenditure estimates.

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