It is time of year when you may be thinking about soil sampling. There are many different methods to help you assess your soil health and fertility.

Using data you may already be collecting is a great way to create some extra value for yourself. Yield maps, satellite imagery (Google Earth or other), elevation as well as field knowledge are all very useful in designing a strategy that will get you the biggest bang for your buck. Using additional layers can help you move away from bulk/grid type sampling and into zone sampling that can provide even more value.

If you have a rainy day, get out some of your historic yield maps, your 2014 yield data, Google Earth or previous site specific sampling maps and look for patterns in your field. Chances are that you will already be familiar with the different zones that show up throughout your data layers. Draw the zones and use that map to sample your field. You can get as detailed as you want by how many zones you decide to sample and whether you use GPS or a software program. Many retailers can help you with this process or you can do it yourself with a bit of time and work. Zone sampling allows you to sample based on areas of different soil or crop characteristics across a field.

Below is an image from Google Earth. You can see in this particular field there are different zones showing up. With personal knowledge of the field, you can determine if these zones make sense for your farm, and if so, you can use them as one of the layers you work with.

Laura Johnston, CCA-ON, Maizex Seeds Yield Specialist, West Elgin County
Twitter: @lmjohnston8