We’re gearing up for grid sampling and soil sampling season here at Cultivating Innovation!
Fall is just around the corner, and it is a good time to consider which soil sampling scheme is right for your operation – zone or grid? We’ve compiled some information to help you make that decision! Each field is full of variability in terms of the nutrient levels and availability across the field. Many factors contribute to this variability – soil type, topography, soil and crop management practices, soil chemical and physical properties, and soil movement (via erosion, runoff, etc.). Yield is also affected by many of these factors. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create a more uniform environment to grow our crops in, and perhaps achieve a more consistent yield across the field? Soil sampling is a tool that can help us understand the variability in your fields, increase the efficiency with which you apply your fertilizer, with the ultimate goal of lowering your input costs.
Grid sampling will give you the most complete picture of nutrient variability in your field. Then, using those results, we can create variable rate fertilizer or manure prescriptions to place more nutrients where they are needed, and less where they are not. This increases efficiency and can reduce input costs in comparison to a straight rate application. Grid sampling on a 2.5-acre grid helps you to understand your small-scale variability more accurately.
In contrast, zone sampling schemes require less samples than grid sampling while still giving you adequate information about the nutrient status of the field. Zones can be created based on other soil or crop characteristics data, such as multi-year yield or soil type. This sampling scheme is better for those using soil type and nutrient removal information to determine nutrient availability across the field.
Each soil sampling approach has its place. However, a good approach might be to intensively sample the field first using the grid sampling scheme to determine nutrient levels and variability on a smaller scale, and follow up with zone sampling in the years after that. Both of these soil sampling approaches are capable of affecting the rate at which you apply fertilizer or lime. Our goal is to maximize your return on investment, and a good way to do that is by understanding your field’s fertility and apply inputs accordingly. Through the use of precision ag applications, we can help you get the most bang for your buck.