Friday, August 5, 2016

Asking the Probing Questions

Randy is not trying out a new pogo stick (though, I admit, the photo looks like he could be).

So this resident reporter asked a "probing" question: Just what are you doing?

It was a probing question all right: Randy was using a soil probe to take soil samples in several of our fields.
Before he got started, he filled out the information on the front of a soil sample bag he'd gotten from the Kanza Co-op, Zenith branch.
Other years, he has borrowed a soil probe from them for this task. However, he wanted his very own soil probe. So he actually went on the internet and ordered one. (That is probably a bigger deal to me and his children than to the general public. A few years ago, none of us would have believed he would purchase anything online, send or receive a text message or take a photo with his phone. We are all sorry we doubted you, Randy! He's actually gotten pretty proficient at it.)
In this particular field, he didn't have any trouble pushing the probe into the ground to retrieve the sample. We've had good moisture this summer. But he does like his new probe better than the co-op probe because it has a "foot pusher." We all find our happy place with different things.
He sampled soil from several different locations in the field, dumping each time into the blue bucket. After getting enough soil to reach the "fill line," he dumped it in the labeled bag.
These four bags were all from different fields.
We took them to Zenith, where they will send them off for evaluation. Randy wants the soil evaluated for "small grains," in our case, for wheat.
He marked that his target yield is 40 to 60 bushels per acre. The results will help him know how much fertilizer is needed to optimize the potential for our 2017 wheat crop. It also will evaluate whether we need to spread agricultural lime.

This year, we may not apply all the nitrogen fertilizer recommended right now. Low commodity prices are causing us to reconsider input costs and the timing of those costs. We will use a starter fertilizer during planting, which is a combination of nitrogen and phosphate. We will likely put more fertilizer on when we topdress the wheat next spring.


  1. Another interesting job in the modern farm routine.

    1. I had never written about it in the 6+ years I've been writing the blog. I'm always glad to find a new subject!

  2. I wonder if today's kids even know what a pogo stick is, but I can recall how fun they were. Interesting to learn about this procedure! Good luck with next year's crop!

    1. I don't know whether they would or not. Growing up on a dirt road, I didn't have one.

      We will take all the luck we can get. Thanks!

  3. You were very apt in thinking it was like a pogo stick... hard going in the dirt though!

    I did chuckle at Randy buying the soil sampler online. My how far we have all come, and how our buying habits are changing. Our last purchase of cattle was online... and what a wonderful line they have turned out to be.

    1. Randy will watch cattle auctions online. I can't imagine him actually hitting the "buy" button - ha!