Continuum Ag’s Soil Sampling Approach
Soil sampling is an important management tool for farmers. Here at Continuum Ag, we take a bit of a different approach to soil sampling. When a farmer enters their fields into our TopSoil platform, we automatically pull in the USGS and SSRGO publicly available data. We use the slope, elevation, crop suitability rating, and root available water rating from these layers to run a variability analysis. This variability analysis clusters like parts of the field together into management zones. If the farmer provides yield data or other information, we can also use that in the variability analysis to create zones. On average, we create one zone for every ten acres.
Once the zones have been created, we are ready to soil sample. Starting in zone 1, we will make 8-10 stops to pull cores. The stops are scattered throughout the zone, so we can be sure we are covering as much of the field as possible. At each stop, we pull two soil cores at a 6 inch depth. The cores are mixed in a bucket and then poured into a sample bag. That bag represents zone 1. We repeat the process for each of the remaining zones in the field.
Once all the samples are collected, we mail them off to the lab for Haney testing. The Haney test quantifies how healthy the soils are, provides us with the analysis of available nutrients, and much more. If you want to learn more about the details of the Haney test, check out our agronomy learning tool. The data we receive back from the lab is automatically mapped into TopSoil.
From the Haney test results, we can determine how healthy the soils are, and build variable rate fertilizer recommendations. These recommendations are based on the crop, yield goal, and available nutrients in the soil.
We adjust the recommendations based on the farmer’s needs. Then we send the recommendations off to the fertilizer spreader for application. With this soil sampling process, we’ve helped our farmers save an average of $75.44/ac without losing yield!