4 Steps to Make the Most of Zone Soil Sampling

  • Oct 01, 2018
4 Steps to Make the Most of Zone Soil Sampling
If you want to increase your opportunity to maintain a profitable farming operation, you need to obtain information efficiently and cost effectively so you can make smarter decisions. Zone soil sampling is one way to get base measurements to assess your soil’s health and potential productivity. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your zone soil samples.
  1. Define your goals.
To develop a sampling plan, start by deciding what your yield goals are based on what you know about each particular field. If you’ve farmed the ground before, you may have historical yield data, soil maps and personal experience to help define your management zones.  
  1. Develop zones.
Use different types of data to help develop your management zones for sampling. Technology, including the R7® Tool, can help. You can pick from satellite images (including yield maps and field variability maps) that best represent your fields, and the R7 Tool will generate a satellite-derived management zone (SaMZ™) map to help you visually see variations in production potential. This gives you a strong starting point for establishing sampling zones. Geo-referencing your sampling locations can help establish trends to maintain consistency over time.   
  1. Make decisions.
After you’ve taken soil samples in the defined zones, use the results to establish fertility plans. Knowing which zones have the highest productivity potential can help you focus your fertilization applications to areas where you’re more likely to get the highest return on your investment.
  1. Monitor in-season.
Soil sampling is a valuable tool, especially when it’s tied to in-season actions. Comparing soil samples with plant tissue samples can indicate how efficiently plants are taking up nutrients. The in the R7 Tool can help you understand how well you’re managing your fertility as the season progresses and calibrate for the next season. You may find you need to change your sampling zones based on yield results you’re seeing over time.
Zone soil sampling can be a cost-effective way to get a base measurement of soil health across large fields. When combined with soil maps, field imagery, topographic information and yield data, you can get a better understanding of what each field needs to maximize yield potential.
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