Is there a new soil sampler on the block?

A new soil sampler that can cover 150ha/day; travel at up to 15mph; measure soil pH, soil organic matter and soil structure on the move has been tried out in the UK.

The compact ‘U3 soil scanner’ comes from Veris Technologies, Kansas, in the US.

The scanner measures soil electrical conductivity to determine soil texture and allows fields to be mapped for soil sampling.

This data can be gathered for variable-rate maps – used for spreading fertiliser or lime, for example. The sampler sticks to the principles of most modern samplers on the market but also has two important extra features.

What’s different about the U3 soil scanner?

The U3 has an added advantage; it can also determine soil pH and soil organic matter. The compact machine feeds this data to a laptop as it scans the field.

The machine has a self-contained hydraulic system, and is relatively lightweight. As a result it can be towed by a utility vehicle or a 4X4.

When sampling the U3 is driven in parallel lines – 12m apart. The sampler can travel at speeds of up to 15mph and can cover 150ha/day. Sampling number is high and the result is that maps can be made using 0.5ha grids as opposed to the usual 1ha grid.

These grids can then be sampled for nutrients. The use of smaller grids results in improved accuracy in soil sampling and fertiliser recommendations.

Using electrical conductivity to measure soil structure means that soil texture differences across the field can be mapped and seed rates can be changed accordingly.

The scanner can also use GPS and elevation data to measure slopes in fields. All of the data combined allows the risk of soil leaching to be examined.

The data collected by the scanner can be transferred to an input or record keeping system that the farmer is using on their own farm.

As far as AgriLand is aware the scanner is yet to be used in Ireland and it remains to be seen if the machine will suit Irish soil conditions. The video (above) gives a quick overview of the U3 soil scanner in action.