What is in this article?:
- North Carolina grower develops mobile soil sampler
- Machine built with farmers' needs in mind
- Takes 12 samples at a time without farmer ever leaving his vehicle
- North Carolina cotton and grain farmer Allan Baucom built a mobile soil sampling system called 'The Falcon’ that virtually eliminates human error from the soil testing equation.
- “This machine was built from the ground up with the farmer in mind,” he says.
- Two workable models are in operation. One is dedicated to Baucom’s 6.000-plus acre operation. The other has been in operation in New York, Illinois and the Dakotas.
THE MOBILE soil sampling system developed in part by North Carolina farmer Allan Baucom can store up to 200 samples at a time.
Takes 12 samples at a time without farmer ever leaving his vehicle
The Falcon is equipped with a stainless steel probe and drum to prevent any metal contamination of the soil sample.
Once the user determines the GPS coordinates to be sampled, the Falcon’s 5-foot diameter stainless steel wheel turns and the probe takes a soil sample every 15 feet.
The machine will then take as many samples as needed per grid or zone, mix the samples into a representative sample, box them in easily identifiable containers and store them.
All processes are controlled remotely and can be viewed on the color screen in the cab of the vehicle.
The operator can take 12 samples at a time without ever leaving his pickup truck or farm vehicle.
Total capacity is recommended at 156 samples, but it can be tweaked to handle 200 or more before it has to be unloaded and reloaded.
Once the front-end electrical system is incorporated into the sampler, a user will be able to integrate the system with a tablet or laptop computer, which will be able to integrate directly with GPS signals and provide growers with a time stamp for when and where the samples were taken, further reducing the risk of human error in the sampling process.
Though development of the Falcon has been an ongoing project for several years, the need for such a device has never been more evident in some parts of the Southeast. In areas hit with 100-year record rainfall, nutrients were washed away in places where leaching doesn’t usually occur.
“On our farm, and to varying degrees across our part of North Carolina and the Southeast, there were many fields in which water stood or moved through the field at a level we simply haven’t seen in our lifetime.
“As a result, there are fields that under any semblance of normal conditions don’t leach nutrients from the soil. Or, at least, we have a good handle on how much leaching goes on in these fields.
“This year, everything we knew about soil leaching was literally washed away by the heavy and continual rains we got throughout the season,” Baucom says.
From a personal standpoint, he adds that for the first time in his lifetime, he was unable to harvest crops he planted.
When farmers get ready to plant crops in the spring of 2014, many are going to find dramatic changes in the levels of nutrients in the soil.
Without an efficient and timely system for taking, shipping and using the returned data from soil samples, it will be a difficult year next year, the North Carolina grower says.
Regardless of how they take soil samples, the veteran North Carolina grower says sample, sample, and sample again will be good advice in areas most severely impacted by the record rains in 2013.
One option will be the new mobile soil sampler developed by the North Carolina farmer. The Falcon is being built by Baucom Service and will be marketed by Carolina Ag and Equipment, both owned by Baucom .