Delineation of site‐specific management zones using estimation of distribution algorithms
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In this paper, we present a novel methodology to solve the problem of delineating homogeneous site-specific management zones (SSMZ) in agricultural fields. This problem consists of dividing the field into small regions for which a specific rate of inputs is required. The objec- tive is to minimize the number of management zones, which must be homogeneous according to a specific soil property: physical or chem- ical. Furthermore, as opposed to oval zones, SSMZ with rectangular shapes are preferable since they are more practical for agricultural technologies. The methodology we propose is based on evolutionary computation, specifically on a class of the estimation of distribution algorithms (EDAs). One of the strongest contributions of this study is the representation used to model the management zones, which gener- ates zones with orthogonal shapes, e.g., L or T shapes, and minimizes the number of zones required to delineate the field. The experimental results show that our method is efficient to solve real-field and ran- domly generated instances. The average improvement of our method consists in reducing the number of management zones in the agricul- tural fields concerning other operations research methods presented in the literature. The improvement depends on the size of the field and the level of homogeneity established for the resulting management zones.