With the advent of quality mobile and desktop software, as well as rugged mobile devices with GPS capabilities, precision soil sampling has greatly improved.
I talked this week to George Ropp, a retired county extension agent turned soil fertility consultant in northwest Ohio, who has a lot of experience with such technology. His use spans way back to the early days of mapping software, using AgLink from Applications Mapping. “Once that company was sold, I had to find new software—so I did a lot of searching and settled with Ag Leader,” he says. “I was pessimistic at first, wondering if this company that was more know for its yield data technology could develop good software for fertility. Well, it turned out they had exactly what I needed.”
Ropp consults with a core group of farmers near Van Wert, Ohio—helping them with grid or management zone soil sampling, and fertility recommendations. “I do all the grid work, the fertility recommendations as well as write the prescription programs, all using the SMS software. I’m such a believer in this technology that I became a dealer, and have since sold probably 50 SMS software programs and 20 SMS Mobile Field PCs, because growers really like the software’s capability and ease of use,” he adds.
To take soil samples is the same grid locations, Ropp downloads the map of the sites into the mobile PC. “The Ag Leader SMS software and handheld computer guides me easily between sample locations, which farmers really like. And if I’m doing a new field, it’s simple to create a new project on the fly right in the field.”
Ropp says he’s beginning to sell more Field PCs to farmers who want to collect their own soil samples. “Growers can save about $5 to $6 per acre by taking their own soil samples, and this technology makes that process real easy to do,” he adds. “And once they get one of these mobile units, they start using them for numerous other tasks, such as field tiling and crop scouting.”
The bottom line is about saving input costs—making precision pay—and Ropp is truly helping growers find efficiencies by managing their data.
For more information on precision soil sampling, check out these links: