Sampling Wet Soils

This fall’s untimely and widespread rain events have slowed down harvest and soil sampling. Soon, many will be faced with the decision to either delay sampling or attempt to sample in less-than-ideal conditions. Here are a few tips on how to still get quality data from wet soil samples.

Maintain consistent sampling depth. Wet soil tends to compress below the tip of a soil probe. To combat this, first use a probe with a tip designed for wet soils. Also, a deeper core can be collected to ensure that you are getting the full depth and simply discard the excess soil from the lower portion of the probe.

Avoid cross-contamination of samples. Mud sticks to everything, especially soil probes. Remove as much soil from your probe as possible between sampling points. WD-40 and cooking sprays can be used to lubricate soil probes to ease soil removal and minimize carry over to the next sample without impacting your soil test results.

Make sure the lab can identify your sample when it arrives. The soil sample bags available from the lab are designed to keep moisture in. However, if the outside of the bag gets wet, there is the potential for identifying information on the bag to be lost. When wet, printed labels can easily come off and handwritten information can easily be smudged. Use good quality labels, waterproof if possible, or use permanent markers.

Keep your shipping materials as dry as possible. Wet boxes do hold up in shipment. Do not pack your boxes in the field if you can not keep them dry. Use another container while in the field and pack your shipping boxes in a dry location where the outside to the sample bags can be dried off if necessary.

Your job is to collect a quality soil sample and get it to the lab in a good condition. From there, the state-of-the art soil drier at ALGL will take care of the rest to ensure that you get reliable results from wet samples.

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