Soil School: Putting three sampling and mapping technologies to the test

How can farmers diagnose soil fertility issues? What tools can identify nutrient deficiencies and best manage variability across fields and farms?

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soil School, Bernard Tobin visits Southwest Crop Diagnostic Days at the Ridgetown College campus, University of Guelph, to report on three soil testing and mapping technologies — GroundWork, SoilOptix and SWAT Maps — that more farmers are using to help address soil management challenges and optimize yield.

In a rapid-fire session, Tobin is first joined by Caleb Niemeyer from Woodrill Ltd. for an inside look at the workings and rewards of GroundWork soil analysis. In the video, Niemeyer shares how the program provides a digital soil type map of growers’ fields using field topography, imagery, electrical conductivity and yield data.

GroundWork also collects 26 soil samples per 100 acres using a hydraulic soil-coring machine. Soil analysis and machine learning analysis is then applied to all data available to identify management zones for precision agriculture, allowing growers to vary rates of seed, fertilizer and chemical. (Story continues after the video.)

Next up, Deveron agronomist Karla Jackson shares how the company uses the SoilOptix sensor to capture the natural gamma radiation emitted from soil. Attached to a gator, it travels up and down a field in a 40-foot swath to collect about 335 points of data per acre. Soil samples are also collected and combined with the sensor scan to identify nutrient highs and lows as well as extremes and anomalies in the field to create management maps.

SoilOptix can produce soil and nutrient maps as well as water availability maps to aid in-season cropping decisions.

The video wraps up with a look at soil, water and topography maps — more commonly know as SWAT Maps. Brandon Glenney from Glenny Ag Services discusses how these high-resolution soil foundation maps are used to execute variable rate fertilizer, seed, soil amendment and pesticide applications.

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