What is Grid Sampling? 


Trenton Moore, Precision Ag Specialist, Mid-West Fertilizer, INC. 

      Grid sampling is the process of taking several samples, usually in 2.5 acre grids, across a field to determine the nutrient levels and patterns throughout the field. This is often done when a grower is considering a lime application or is trying to determine what can be done to improve the fields overall soil health.  Once the samples are taken and analyzed by a lab, the results are then used to create a soil map using a mapping software program. From these maps there will be variable rate recommendations created for your farm and field to assist in correcting any problem areas or just to be sure you are keeping the nutrient levels where you want them to be. By creating these variable rate prescription maps, it allows you to allocate your funds across your field in a more precise manner, also known as Precision Agriculture.

      For example, if you were going apply lime on a field to correct the pH, but you only took a couple samples in different spots of the field, then mixed it together and sent it in, you would only have one recommendation for the entire field. What if 10 acres of that field didn’t need lime, 10 acres only needed one ton per acre, and the other ten needed 2 ton per acre? That lab results will most likely come back and tell you something along the lines of needing one ton an acre and that’s it. So, you go and spread one ton an acre blanket rate over the entire field and call it good. Now you have too high of a pH where you didn’t need any, just the right pH where you needed one ton, and are short where you needed two ton.

(Example of a soil pH map created by grid sampling)


      When you grid sample and create variable rate recommendations, it fixes this potential issue. It takes out the guess work of what your soil needs. This same concept applies with all fertilizer that is applied across the field depending on what those nutrient levels are and what patterns are found when doing grid sampling.
            
      Grid sampling is usually done every 4-6 years to recreate maps and see if any kind of patterns have changed throughout the field. In between those periods, we can do more direct soil sampling throughout the field in areas of concern to monitor the levels and see if what we are doing is correcting the soil levels and achieving what we set out to achieve.
 
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