No doubt, soil sampling can be drudgery. But industry innovators continue to develop solutions that offer to not only make the job easier but also more accurate.
Many university studies prove that there is a direct relationship between the number of cores taken in the sample and the repeatability of the lab results, says Rich Wildman, Managing Member, Agrinetix. “As a rule of thumb, 25 to 50 cores in each grid or zone are needed to achieve satisfactory statistical reliability in lab results,” he says.
Wildman oversees sales of the Falcon automated soil sampler. At recommended speeds of 8 to 12 mph, it can collect 40 or more cores every minute as it crosses a field. This enables more cores per sample for higher accuracy and increases the number of acres sampled each day. Plus, GPS tracking on the Falcon allows for every core to be recorded by location, time, date, and operator.
Aaron Miller, Owner of Miller Spraying, Lowville, NY, has used the Falcon for almost four years. He most appreciates the consistency of samples taken, along with the high volume of cores the unit is able to pull. “It can significantly take away the human error associated with most other types of soil sampling tools — and that’s led to increased confidence from our customers not only in our ability to pull a quality sample but also in the recommendations we make on other input decisions.”
Chris Cauley, Products Specialist with Coastal AgroBusiness, Greenville, NC, heard about the Falcon from growers. After watching the unit in action, he bought one, then quickly saw the demand to purchase a second.
“Today we run five Falcons and take hundreds of thousands of samples each per year,” he says. “They make it practical and cost effective to take grid or zone samples and quickly get results back to our customers.”
GVM’s AgriProbe features a soil probe mounted on a Bobcat Toolcat. It can pull samples 6 to 12 inches deep in even very dry or frozen conditions. “It’s actually like a 2,000-pound guy standing on the end of that soil probe,” describes Mark Anderson, GVM President.
Soil depth is key, he says. “Many people are taking a 4½- or 3-inch sample and not getting down to the full depth that they need.”
Anderson says the AgriProbe also offers the consistency that’s required in pulling cores.