Collecting Good Samples in Bad Conditions

While growers throughout the corn belt faced challenging weather from spring planting through the growing season, weather has also been delaying soil sampling this fall. In Late September, much of the Great Lakes Region was dealing with dry soil conditions. These dry, hard soil conditions made achieving the proper soil sampling depth difficult  when working with a hand probe or light hydraulic probe. We had reports of customers seeking out auger units simply to keep soil sampling on pace. In fields with spot replanting, many producers are harvesting around late planted soybeans, leading to partially harvested fields that are yet to be sampled.

The welcome rains blanketing the region through much of October helped alleviate the hard soil, but brought soybean harvest to a crawl for nearly two weeks in parts of the region. This break in the harvest allowed samplers to catch up, and many found themselves waiting for additional fields to sample. Looking forward, we see a sizable number of acres remaining, and the forecast for colder weather adds more uncertainty. In the midst of these challenges, it is critical to keep in mind that the goal should always be to capture quality data. Consistent sampling depth is perhaps the most critical aspect of sample collection, and every effort should be made to ensure that a uniform sampling depth is maintained in all conditions. Poor soil test data from improperly sampled fields can be much worse than no data at all. Keep your eye on quality, and the rest will fall into place.

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