21 June 2002

Sample soil with hands free device

FASTER and more detailed P, K and pH mapping is the promise of TurfTrax Magnascan, which plans to launch a new precision soil sampling tool next month.

The new device measures the natural background radiation of the soil as it passes over it, giving a reading that relates to the nutrient content.

"There is a different frequency of radiation for each nutrient," says commercial director, Justin Smith.

Readings are taken every second effectively sampling an area of 6sq m to 0.5m deep. The only time a trowel or auger is needed is to take a couple of soil samples to fine-tune calibration to each field.

"Sampling" can be carried out at any time of year, typically from a quad-bike. The device could be mounted on a sprayer or tractor to take readings while performing another operation, says Mr Smith.

Scanning for nitrogen content is a possible development for the future, he adds. &#42

Soil scanning technology can now indicate P and K status, says TurfTrax Magnascans Justin Smith.

Soils and fertiliser specialist, Johnny Johnston of IACR-Rothamsted was sceptical of the technique. "I would advise growers to ask how it is done and on what basis, and to find out how it relates to already well-proven soil testing methods."