Gary Suess, Precision Ag Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org (507) 273-7043
As you prepare for the beginning of Spring fieldwork, you might be asking yourself some questions to make sure everything is ready to go when the weather breaks and we hit the fields. Questions such as: Are the tractors, planters, and other implements serviced and adjusted? Do you have all your fertilizer, seed, and crop protection needs lined up to cover your acres? Do you have your completed farm plans on file at the coop? These are all very important questions, however, let’s add one more question to the list: Do I have my fields signed up for Spring grid sampling? If not, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should.
One of the biggest benefits with Spring grid sampling shows up in time savings. With Spring sampling, you can avoid the delays associated with fall sampling. When grid sampling in the fall, sampling has to wait until the field is harvested, followed by sampling, then sample analysis at the soil lab, followed by recommendations. This can result in a delay of 10-14 days until you can do your fall fertilizer and lime applications. With Spring grid sampling, you can avoid these delays. Since sampling is done in early Spring and through the planting season, you have the entire summer to plan a fertilizer program and estimate costs for the next crop year. This allows you to concentrate on combining, grain handling and fall tillage instead of making tough financial input decisions during the long days that happen during the fall season. Also, application of lime and fertilizer can be scheduled to be done right after combining, avoiding delays in tillage as the fall gets late and the weather gets harsh.
Developing the right fertilizer program starts with pulling accurate data from your fields. Spring sampling gives you this high degree of accuracy. Soil moisture tends to be more consistent in Spring, creating a more accurate sample, where fall sampling conditions can be extremely dry or extremely wet. Because of this, potassium soil test readings are more variable in the fall. Spring sampled potassium readings also tend to be more representative of nutrients available to the crop because potassium trapped in the crop residues will leach out over the winter.
Grid sampling data is a key component to many of the precision ag data management programs. For example, if you plan to enroll into the Climate Pro program to utilize the Yield Analysis tool, you will want to have your grid sample soil data entered to allow you to maximize your ability to extract how the soil properties of the field are influencing your yields. Taking grid samples on your fields this Spring will give you the opportunity to put a set of fresh data into the program to give you the best correlation results.
Before you get busy and hit the fields this Spring, take a moment to think if Spring grid sampling has a fit on any of your fields. Please give your Progressive Ag Center Agronomist a call to discuss any questions you might have. Finally, please take time this Spring to remain safe as you work. I wish you all a productive and safe season!