First, I acknowledged that sensor-based soil testing is quite a ways off from being widely adopted. Taking physical soil samples are going to be the way to go for quite some time. With that being said, we can do a lot to update how we are taking these samples.
Next, let’s take an honest look at grid samples. When they first came out, they were a massive improvement from our old program of driving out to the field, taking some samples from the high spots, the low areas, and then maybe a sample or two from the area in between. When we got the results back we averaged those numbers and used that as the basis for our flat rate application.
Then when grid sampling came out, it was great because we could go out and see some variability across the field and treat those different areas according to the variability. Then we could also revisit those same points in the future to see how they changed. This made a huge difference for the vast majority of growers and was very profitable.
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However, this system does have a few flaws. Mother Nature doesn’t work in straight lines, so it can be a challenge to set a grid that exactly captures the variability across the field.