The Path to Quality Soil Sampling

The Path to Quality Soil Sampling
Mar 29, 2022

Drive greater value from your soil sampling.

By Andrew Joseph; Image via Ag Business & Crop

To Felix Weber, making agronomic decisions is always rooted in having confidence in the data collected.

When soil sampling, Weber is particular about the quality and consistency of collected soil cores. “If careful attention is not paid to where, when, and how those cores collected, how can you have confidence in the test results or fertilizer recommendations?”

This may sound rather simplistic, given the level of technology we now have at our disposal, but Weber is the Chief Executive Officer of Ag Business & Crop Inc., who farms, operated a crop consulting business, and is the distributor for Wintex Soil samplers, and offers these tips for getting the most value out of your soil sampling:

  • Sample fields at the same time of year so analyses are comparable over time;
  • Avoid fields where fertilizer, manure, or bio-solids were recently applied;
  • Soil sample minimum every four years for a given field, and at the same point in the rotation;
  • Clean equipment between fields to avoid moving soil-borne pests like SCN, clubroot;
  • Use plastic or stainless steel containers for collecting samples. Galvanized metal containers can affect test results for some micronutrients;
  • Sample to a depth of six to eight inches, the depth of most topsoil and where soil mixing occurs, and where plants extract the majority of nutrients, except for nitrogen. Fertilizer recommendations are based on this depth; every inch makes a difference, so consistency in depth is important;
  • Long-term no-till fields and pastures may need an additional sample to two to three inches to note changes in pH, where nitrogen is being surface applied;
  • Collect a minimum of 15-20 soil cores per sample. More cores has a greatest impact on the accuracy of results. Label samples consistently to easily refer and compare results in the future;
  • Take two or more analyzed samples from different locations to compare the low/high;
  • GPS reference every sample to accurately map fertility and allow repeat sampling of the same locations in the future. Sampling the same points in the future allows for reliably looking at trends in soil nutrients;
  • Preferably submit the entire sample to the lab; the lab is much better equipped to thoroughly mix and sub-sample for analysis.

Above all else, Weber also emphasizes the point that it's important to have a sampling plan based on other data layers, but most of all based on the conversation with the farmer’s experience and knowledge of the field.

This last point can often be missed from sampling plans. Field sizes have grown as fence rows have been removed, fields combined, drained—the farmer's knowledge of this is critical.

After years of sampling his fields and those of clients by hand, Weber searched for a professional automatic sampler that would make sampling faster, but still offer the consistency and accuracy of a manual soil probe.

That’s why he adopted the Wintex Agro automatic sampler from Denmark that Weber now distributes across Canada.

“I saw right away that this automated technology was a great way to save time in the field while also providing a consistent six-inch deep soil sample every single time,” Weber noted, adding that accurate data and trend analysis helps agronomists and farmers make improved decisions.

“I'm all for more data, but it's important that it’s data collected with a purpose, repeatable, accurate, and provides a real return on investment.”  

With today's high fertilizer prices, soil testing is a high payback investment, and for those that have a good history of test results it gives them the confidence to adjust fertilizer plans.

Weber said that with today's higher yields, growers and agronomists are looking to understand soil health and increasingly map their fields for nutrients and other measures. This has driven more interest in the Wintex Agro sampler by those desiring professional soil samples such as independent consultants, crop input dealers, university and agricultural government agencies, as well as the commercial market.

“We have larger clients that do their sampling, and others who have added sampling as a service to farmers,” he said.

Because of the automated nature of the technology, Weber noted that many clients have mounted the Wintex Agro on an ATV/Side by Side; a pickup truck; or a tractor 3-point hitch.

Although the most-used delivery method is, according to Weber, via an ATV and Side by Side, there are different frames available, including a special pickup frame built by Ag Business & Crop for mounting the sampler on the rear of a truck and it folds for transport.

As a farmer and consultant, Weber highlights the importance of timely support, parts, and service: “We know the industry and understand the client’s needs. We listen to their needs and work with them to answer questions and remove barriers.”

Weber noted one trend he is seeing is that “After purchasing their first Wintex, the customer’s question switches from price to model. The technology works so well that we have some clients with over 10 Wintex soil samplers.”

For some clients, their first model is the Wintex 1000 which samples to a depth of 10-12 inches. They will often add a model with a hydraulic hammer that allows for sampling in hard soils, and to extend sampling season to sampling through frost.

Wintex Agro distributes samplers worldwide and its latest upgrade is to the internationally standard CAN Bus controller electrical hub that simplifies and centralizes control of the Wintex from a single monitor.

Said Weber, “It has helped improve the electrical system and has simplified things for the operator.”

He summed up the Wintex technology’s ability to provide the operator with time savings and consistent and comparable soil samples: “It’s the confidence of the data knowing that the soil samples are the same depth every time.

“Plus, there’s less fatigue on the person doing the soil sampling as the hydraulic Wintex allows the operator to perform the job from a driver’s seat.”

For more information on the Wintex Agro technology, visit the Ag Business & Crop website:

This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of the Precision Agriculture Digital Digest, a publication. To subscribe to the digest, visit:

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Trending Video