Allan Baucom heads a large agriculture enterprise and grows several thousand acres of grain crops and cotton in and around Monroe, N.C.

He’s done it well for plenty of years and says a good soil testing program is one of the hallmarks on which his farming operation is built.

As his farming operation got bigger and bigger, so did the challenges of keeping up with varying soil types, ever-changing soil fertility products and procedures for getting soil samples to and from a reputable lab in a timely manner.

Among those challenges has long been getting representative soil samples done efficiently and timely enough to provide an opportunity to make good crop management decisions.

Baucom says he is blessed to have outstanding people working in his farming operation, but the more people involved in getting soil samples out of the ground, boxed and properly identified and sent off to a lab for analysis, the higher the risk human error will create future problems when the crops are planted.

Based on his need to get more timely and more accurate soil test information, Baucom headed an effort to build a mobile soil sampling system that virtually eliminates human error from the soil testing equation.

The new mobile, automated soil sampler, dubbed ‘The Falcon’, has made a big difference in the soil sampling efforts on his own farm and will soon be available to growers across the country.

Necessity has truly been the Mother of Invention with the Falcon. “In our own farming operation, we had a big need for a device like this,” the North Carolina grower says.

He notes that for years soil samples on his farm were taken by whoever had the time to do it. As a result, human error was at times a problem and lack of uniformity in the testing was a constant concern.

Based on these concerns, four years ago one person was designated to be the soil sample person on the farm. While that arrangement solved some challenges, it created some more, and he began to look for a simple system that could both speed up the soil sample process and make it more efficient.

“From my personal experience, I knew a mobile, self-contained sampling system had to be simple to operate, and I believe the Falcon will prove to be simple in operation.

“To be functional in the field, an operator needs a vehicle with a seven pin receptacle and a tablet or laptop to generate the GPS information needed to determine sample spots in a field.”